The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the state of Illinois' new and revised water quality standards for five segments of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers.
"In May of this year, EPA notified the state of Illinois that upgraded water quality standards were necessary to protect the health and safety of the increasing number of people who use these rivers for recreation," said EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. "We are pleased that Illinois acted quickly to adopt new standards, which will help to further the transformation of the Chicago river system from sewage canal to valuable recreational and economic asset."
"Illinois' rivers and lakes are some of our most important natural resources, and families should be able to enjoy activities like boating, fishing and swimming," said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. "I am pleased that portions of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers will now be more available to people for recreational use, and we are committed to continuing our work to make Illinois' waterways clean and safe for the public.
"Today's action reaffirms the commitment of the EPA and the state of Illinois to help ensure Chicago's river system can be a clean and safe destination for Chicagoans," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "We are investing heavily to create recreational options around the river so that every Chicagoan has access to clean public spaces. These improved standards will help make recreational opportunities a more enjoyable experience."
The approved standards apply to the north and south branches of the Chicago River, the North Shore Channel, the Cal-Sag Channel and the Little Calumet River. EPA continues to review the other new and revised water quality standards that the state has proposed for the Chicago Area Waterway System and the Lower Des Plaines River.