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Feds Tell Daley To Clean Up River, Daley Tells Feds "Go Swim In The Potomac"

By JoshMogerman in News on Jun 3, 2010 2:40PM

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Mayor Daley was in rare form on Wednesday responding to questions about a Trib story that revealed an April letter from the Obama Administration and the U.S. EPA pushing for the Chicago River to fulfill the Clean Water Act’s “fishable and swimmable” goal. Bristling at the federal guidance and unfunded mandates, Daley seemed to be channeling his inner Tea Partier when he blurted that the feds should, “Go swim in the Potomac,” and noted that, "We're trying to make this river every day cleanable, more cleanable."

Ironically, the letter was part of the ongoing fight over decontamination of the Chicago River before the Illinois Pollution Board and focused on the actions of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, rather than the City. The District has been fighting a push from the feds, State of Illinois and an array of NGOs, (and, yes, the City) over the practice of dumping undecontaminated effluent from water treatment facilities directly into the river. The Mayor listed a number of other rivers that he felt should be under federal scrutiny, but it is worth noting that the Chicago River is one of the only waterways in North America in which water with human pathogens (or, as one local advocate artfully termed it, “poo germs”) is standard practice.

MWRD is responsible for the region’s water infrastructure. The District is unaffiliated with the City, County, or State and is instead run by an elected board with taxing powers---though there is a familiar inability to avoid controversy.