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New Open City Site Lets You Know When Sewage Is Being Dumped Into The Chicago River

By Jon Graef in News on May 17, 2014 8:15PM

The Chicago River at Irving Park Road. (Photo credit: sictransitgloria)

A new site from the creators of Open City, Is There Sewage In The Chicago River, lets Chicago residents know when sewage is being dumped into the Chicago river. It happens more often than you think.

Specifically, it's happened almost 450 times since January 1, 2007. That's raw, untreated sewage being dumped into the Chicago river. Which naturally raises the question of how this sewage-dumping can be allowed in the first place--a question the site thoroughly answers.

Basically, the site explains "Chicagoland water management companies dump excess order to prevent flooding." So, in order to prevent Chicago citizens from sitting in sewage, they dump it into the rivers and lakes. In order to prevent the sewage from contaminating the drinking supply, the city reversed the flow of the Chicago river.

Subsequently, what Is There Sewage describes as "nutrient pollution" travels to the Gulf of Mexico, where it sits in "a dead zone roughly the size of New Hampshire."


Back in the '70s, the Metropolitan Reclamation District of Greater Chicago started building a massive tunnel in order to prevent flooding. It's not scheduled to be completed until 2029. Despite the state of Illinois adopting water quality standards to be implemented in three years' time, the Reclamation District will still dump sewage in the river.

And that's why and where Is There Sewage In Our Rivers comes in. The site notes that they are a work in progress, so, if you have any suggestions, drop them a line. Otherwise? Just keep refreshing. Lord knows the river isn't.

[H/T Gapers Block]