A statewide helpline has been launched to provide immediate assistance for those impacted by addiction to opioids and other substances. The telephone service line, 1-833-2-FINDHELP (1-833-234-6343), will be operated through the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances is funded by federal grant dollars secured by the State of Illinois and can be accessed free of charge. 
The helpline is the latest step in Illinois lawmakers’ commitment to tackle the opioid crisis and combat the growing number of overdose deaths related to heroin, other opioids, and synthetics like fentanyl. Earlier this year the Governor unveiled the Opioid Action Plan and signed an executive order creating the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The task force, chaired by Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and IDPH Director Nirav Shah, was charged with building strategies that would help reduce projected opioid overdose-related deaths by one-third within the next three years. It has been holding hearings and gathering testimony from public-health professionals and law enforcement leaders on the dimensions of the crisis.  

Another policy established under Executive Order 2017-05 was a Standing Order to make the overdose reversal drug Naloxone (Narcan) available to first responders and members of communities across Illinois, without a prescription. 

Data shows that opioid overdoses are dramatically increasing, with 1,946 people killed in Illinois in 2016 up from 1,382 in 2015. In Will County there were 103 opioid deaths in 2016, up from 79 in 2015. Opioids are killing more people every year than homicides or motor vehicle accidents. In addition, data from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) estimates that approximately 248,000 Illinois residents need, but do not receive, treatment for illicit drug use.

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease. It will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by specialists trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery-support services. 
When the Chicago River was reversed in 1900, the city's sewage was directed away from Lake Michigan, the city and surrounding suburbs' main drinking water source. However severe flooding leads to sewage tainted storm water being put in the lake. Raw sewage can be harmful to the lake and local rivers and has led to the severe pollution of the Chicago River.

State Representative Margo McDermed recently toured the McCook Reservoir, a new addition to Cook County's reservoir system that will have a significant impact on flood control. The reservoir is 3,000 feet long, 310 feet deep, and has the capacity to hold 3.5 billion gallons of storm water. By 2029 it will be able to hold an addition 6.5 billion gallons. 

The tour also included a look at Chicago's 'Deep Tunnel', the largest public works project ever undertaken by the city of Chicago and one of the largest civil engineering feats in modern history. The tunnel connects sewers to reservoirs that hold storm water until it can be pumped to sewage treatment plants for cleanup before being put into local water sources. 

The new reservoir and tunnel are part of a much larger project that began in the late 1970's and is expected to be completed in 2029. Once the project is completed, water management agencies will no longer have to pump excess wastewater in to Lake Michigan and the river during severe weather events to prevent flooding. 

The McCook and Thornton reservoirs, connected via the Deep Tunnel, were built out of large rock quarries recommissioned for public use. Rep. McDermed has pushed for greater regulation of private rock quarries and their impact on local drinking water. These debris and quarry sites are often high in toxins, which can seep in to the groundwater. You can read more here.

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