A series of storms swept through Chicago, with violent monsoons hitting hard during the evening rush hour. By 6:40 p.m., the Chicago River had had enough. It was filled to the brim as the region's dilapidated combined sewer system funneled much of the rainy onslaught into its banks.
The next 50 years of climate change are already baked into the cake, so we need to get serious about dealing with the changes already upon us. We must think big, while also deploying the tools we have now that can help us meet the immediate challenges.
While we celebrate the civilizing influence of indoor plumbing on International Toilet Day, there is nothing civil about the Greater Chicago Region dumping intestinal miasma on our southward neighbors.
Today we can ponder what our region might have been like had we not reversed the Chicago River. It's a puzzle we're grappling with now as we contemplate carp, climate change, and a livable city for the 21st century.
No single solution can be immediately deployed that will address the many ills of the Chicago River -- or those in most of our urban waterways. What is required is steady, thoughtful and determined work.
While we could quibble with some of the letter grades assigned, Senator Kirk deserves much credit for putting together a valuable document that can help stimulate policy discussions about the health of the Great Lakes.
Senators and other elected officials have joined the public outcry for cleaning up the waterway and restoring it to meet acceptable standards for public health and safety. But this is not just an icky sewer problem.
For years many have fought to clean up the Chicago River. One massive obstacle has prevented real action -- the regulators responsible for the Chicago Waterways, MWRD. It is time for MWRD to get in line.
Dumping effluent that contains very high levels of bacteria and other pathogens into the Chicago and Calumet Rivers is not exactly best practice in wastewater treatment. It is clear that we can do better.
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District oversees the water infrastructure for an 800+ square mile area around Chicago. This week, a pair of stories showed the District to be the windiest folks in the Windy City.
One hundred and twenty years ago, no one asked, "What do we owe the Chicago River?" Yet today, making amends for past abuses seems to me to be the central biological, physical and moral challenge of our time.