For broken, derelict and underutilized urban space, 2015 was a good year. In North American cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Toronto and elsewhere, landscape architects contributed to the 'urban renaissance.'
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.
From 2007 through 2013, records show, the district released nearly 32 billion gallons of runoff and wastewater into the lake. By contrast, 12 billion gallons poured out from 1985 through 2006, the year the Deep Tunnel sewer pipes were completed.
The annual event--happening Saturday, March 15 at 10 a.m. -- has blossomed into such a spectacle that leprechauns and banshee ballerinas line up in the wee hours for the best spot to watch the process. Now where is that, exactly?
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.
Can we improve our reuse of water? Can we enhance our wastewater treatment to produce water fit for beneficial purposes? More water quality testing, better wastewater treatment and acknowledgement of this recycling is needed.
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.
Sometimes you need a new perspective on things to see them clearly. Take the Chicago River. Many of us interact with it on a daily basis, but in a passive manner. And, yet when we do pay attention, we don't think of the river as a resource.
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.
Given the withering and unfair attacks launched at the EPA from those who would undo the protections that Americans have come to rely on for their health and safety, it was good to see the President recently take a stand.
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.