Saturday, June 2, 2018

June 2, 2010 -- Feds Say River Should be Safe for Swimming

June 2, 2010 –The Chicago Tribune reports that the Obama administration, in a letter to an Illinois legislative panel, is calling for the Chicago River to be made safe enough for swimming.  The paper reports, “Though it doesn’t outright order the changes needed to make the river safe enough for swimmers, it notes that the federal Clean Water Act requires all waterways to eventually be clean enough for ‘recreation in and on the water.’” [Chicago Tribune, June 2, 2010] Linda Holst, head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s regional water quality branch, says, “We might not be able to attain these standards now, but we need to look toward the future and what is possible.”  Reaction is swift.  Louis Kollias, director of monitoring and research for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, says, “We think the river is clean enough for how it is used today.  Why should we be spending millions of dollars to do this?”

June 2, 2011 – With the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District poised to drop its opposition to tougher water quality standards for the Chicago River, the Chicago Tribune runs an editorial urging the decision forward.  “A cleaner Chicago River,” the editorial observes, “what a gift that would be to Chicagoans.  That wouldn’t just be a boon just for boaters or the tourists who stroll the river’s banks.  It would be a bonanza for the businesses sprouting at water’s edge and the homeowners who have helped fuel an amazing river resurgence.”  The piece continues, “This effort has the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Mark Kirk.  They know the stakes, and they recall the late Mayor Richard J. Daley’s dream of a Chicago River clean enough for fishing and swimming … Come on, commissioners.  Lead on this.  Clean up the Chicago River.”

June 2, 1960 – Mayor Richard J. Daley orders a suit filed against the Illinois Central Railroad to force it to repair the docks along its property on the south branch of the Chicago River between Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. The stand-off between the city and the I. C. results from a long-standing agreement between the two parties that provided the city with an easement along the river when it was planning an extension of Wacker Drive to Lake Shore Drive. The city contends that maintenance is up to the railroad because the easement was never used, pointing out that the I. C. has erected signs that forbid the mooring of boats in the area unless permission is obtained from the railroad. The whole mess started during the preceding summer when a series of newspaper articles created a stir about the conditions found on railroad property all along the river. The photo above shows this section of the river approximately where the cloud of steam is showing on the left of the photo. Note the cores of Marina City rising on the north side of the river in the background.  The second photo shows the same section of the river as it appears today.

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