Group recommends ‘zero tolerance’ by Lightfoot of sewage, litter in Chicago River
Loop North News


(Above) Tour barge CityView on Chicago River east of Michigan Avenue last Wednesday.

28-Apr-19 – The flow of sewage and litter into the Chicago River must stop, an environmental organization has urged mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot.

Friends of the Chicago River says it was asked to submit recommendations to Lightfoot, who takes office on May 20.

The sewage and litter, says the nonprofit organization, is from combined sewer overflows and stormwater runoff that occur after rainstorms. The combined volume of sewage and stormwater exceeds the capacity of the sewer system and the excess is released – complete with sewage, bacteria, chemicals, and trash – directly into the river and sometimes Lake Michigan.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

(Left) Toy ducks from the 2016 Windy City Rubber Ducky Derby huddled in a corner of DuSable Harbor with trash, dead fish, and other debris.

Friends of the Chicago River is recommending a “multi-year, multi-pronged” approach to stop the flow of sewage and litter into the 156-mile river system. Specific suggestions include developing new and enforceable sewer overflow permits, further study of litter on the river to understand where it comes from, working with Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to manage stormwater using “nature-based solutions,” and monitoring water quality to locate “illicit sewage connections.”

“This zero-tolerance policy for sewage and litter would be the first step in addressing the...problem,” said executive director Margaret Frisbie (right, with Mayor Emanuel in 2016), “and would advance at least two other environmental objectives on mayor-elect Lightfoot’s agenda – promoting clean water and positioning Chicago as a leader on climate change.”

Photo by Steven Dahlman

Improving the Chicago River’s water quality, says Frisbie, who is part of the new mayor’s transition committee, “would transform Chicago by creating a public amenity that would provide free unfettered access to people from every community and critical wildlife habitat at a time when rates of extinction are skyrocketing.”

City council considers bird-friendly ordinance

Friends of the Chicago River is also supporting a proposed ordinance designed to reduce fatal collisions between buildings and birds.

A Cornell Lab of Ornithology study finds that Chicago is the most dangerous city in North America for migrating birds because of disorienting, unnecessary artificial light and faulty building design. According to the study, tens of thousands of birds die in Chicago each year by crashing into buildings.

The Bird Friendly Design Ordinance, introduced on January 23 by 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, would limit transparent and reflective glass, add patterns to glass, and reduce interior and exterior light where feasible. The ordinance would apply only to new commercial properties and large residential developments. It was assigned to the Committee on Health and Environmental Protection.

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News |

Published 28-Apr-19 3:12 AM

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