Chicago River comes off endangered river list, but Ohio’s Grand River replaces it
Here’s a milestone for the Chicago River: It’s no longer on a list of the most endangered rivers in the nation.
American Rivers each year reports on what the river advocacy group believes are the most endangered. It’s a call for action to save rivers facing critical tipping point.
The Chicago River was on the list for almost two decades, mostly because the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District spewed bacteria-filled sewage without disinfecting it.
For years the EPA and local environmental groups pushed city authorities to apply clean up technology since the water is widely used.
And in 2012 the Illinois Pollution Control Board and the water reclamation district agreed to add the disinfection step at plants by 2016. Part of the program is to use ultraviolet light and chlorine to kill germs.
“It is a major benchmark for success,” said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River. “It took us more then 15 years to convince sewage agencies that there is a need in balanced use of the river. In the past, the river was used mainly for sewage dumping but now it used for recreation of parks, paddling and many other purposes.”
The story of the Chicago River is promising, said Jessie Thomas-Blate, coordinator for Most Endangered Rivers at the American Rivers. “We are hopeful that Chicago will be a much better place with cleaner water.”
But while one river in the Great Lakes river came off the list, the Grand River in Ohio made its debut.
Natural gas processing is among the river’s threats, Thomas-Blant said.
“We called on the state authorities to ensure natural gas development and the disposal of the wastewater does not harm the river, its clean water and local communities,” she said.