Friday, December 11, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

Here in Chicago, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is charged, in its own words, with "protecting our water environment."
How reassuring, then, to find this sign on the north branch of the Chicago River.
"This waterway not suitable for: wading, swimming, jet skiing, water skiing/tubing, any human body contact."
Why is this river, which runs right through the heart of Chicago, so polluted? Because it's the recipient of 1.2 billion gallons of undisinfected sewage effluent from our city's wastewater treatment plants every day.
The United States Clean Water Act and the Constitution of the State of Illinois both guarantee clean water. Two years ago, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency called for disinfection as a part of the treatment of wastewater discharged into the Chicago River. Doing so would bring our city in line with the practices of other major US cities. But the MWRD is opposed to disinfection, claiming it would be too energy-intensive and too expensive.
What's being dumped into the Chicago River? According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, sewage-contaminated water contains adenovirus, coxsackie A and B and hepatitis A viruses, echovirus, norovirus, rotavirus, salmonella, shigella, E. coli, campylobacter, vibrio, legionalla, mycobacterium, Giarda lamblia and cryptosporidium. These pathogens can cause respiratory illness, meningitis, encephalitis, infectious hepatitis, typhoid, cholera, Legionnaire’s disease and gastroenteritis.
No wonder this water isn't "suitable" for "any human body contact.”

If this bothers you, contact the Illinois Pollution Control Board. Let them know how you use the river and why you would prefer the water to be clean enough for "human body contact."
Send your letter to:
     John Therriault, Chief Clerk
     Attn: Docket R09-08
     Illinois Pollution Control Board
     100 W. Randolph St, suite 11-500
     Chicago, IL 60601
For more information, check out what the  Friends of the Chicago River have written about this problem and how you can be a part of the solution.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Visit to voice your support for disinfection of the Chicago area waterways!