Every day, the Cook County Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) dumps 1.2 billion gallons of wastewater into the Chicago River.
This wastewater – which isn’t disinfected – comprises 70 percent of all the water in the Chicago River. This is a serious health threat for area residents.
Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) needs to protect public health.
Tell them to approve the Illinois EPA’s proposed disinfection rule and require MWRD to join modern municipalities across the country in requiring disinfection of sewage.
- Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
Terrance J. O’Brien
- Assistant Clerk of Illinois Pollution Control Board
- Environmental Protection Agency
As a supporter of American Rivers, I am writing to ask you to kill the pathogens that are contained in the sewage released into the Chicago River every day.
Directly connected to the toilets of Cook County, more than 70 percent of the water in the river is from MWRD plants, and while it receives basic treatment, pathogens remain from human sewage that can harm the thousands of people who use the river. These microorganisms are of particular concern for some special populations, like kids, who have a higher risk of contracting a waterborne illness and have no way of knowing what is in the water. Due to this pollution concern, American Rivers has named the Chicago River one of America's Most Endangered Rivers(TM) of 2011.
The Chicago River has become a true community resource with all kinds of wildlife, new riverfront parks, residential communities, restaurants, and businesses that are dependent on a healthy river. As a region we have spent billions of dollars to clean up the river, but we have not finished the job.
As you know, the U.S. EPA has recently notified Illinois EPA that they must enact stricter regulations that protect the public from the polluted water of the Chicago River. I request that you proactively take steps to tackle the issue of disinfection to protect the citizens of Chicago.
The Clean Water Act requires that we continually improve our waterways to the greatest extent possible. The law clearly states that we need to keep trying until we get it right. The Illinois EPA, and now the U.S. EPA, have recognized that it is time to improve our water quality and establish new standards for how we treat the river. We support the national and state EPA, and call on you to take responsibility for cleaning up the sewage effluent in Chicago's water.
Please begin work immediately to implement the changes needed to begin disinfection of the water destined for the Chicago River.
Thank you for considering my request.
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