EPA Directs Ill. to Upgrade Chicago-Area Water-Quality Standards

Chicago River
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notified the State of Illinois that water quality standards for portions of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers must be upgraded to protect the health and safety of people who recreate in these waterways. The changes are necessary because an increasing number of people are coming into direct contact with the water through boating, jet and water skiing and other forms of recreation.

To attain the new water quality standards, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago will likely be required to disinfect sewage discharged into the waterway system from its North Side and Calumet treatment plants. MWRDGC ceased disinfection at these facilities in the mid-1980s.

“The Clean Water Act requires water quality standards that protect people who use the river,” said U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. “A decade of investments in walkways, boat ramps and parks has provided people with access to the water – and now we need to make sure that the water is safe.” 

EPA’s action directs the Illinois Pollution Control Board to promptly adopt new or revised water quality standards for the north and south branches of the Chicago River, the North Shore Channel, the Cal-Sag Channel and the Little Calumet River.  If the board does not act, the Clean Water Act authorizes U.S. EPA to do so. Since 2007, EPA has repeatedly recommended that Illinois upgrade water quality standards for the waterway system.

"The Chicago and Calumet Rivers are incredibly valuable resources to area residents and visitors, and clean water is vital to people's health and the local economy," said acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner. "Restoring and protecting urban waterways is a priority for EPA because it revitalizes communities, boosts local businesses, and creates jobs and a healthier environment for people."

In 2009, U.S. EPA made a similar determination under its Clean Water Act authority for a 28-mile portion of the Mississippi River near St. Louis.

Download Center

  • Monitoring and Reporting on Air Emissions for Regulators and the Real World

    When it comes to managing compliance and regulatory issues surrounding air emissions, there are no easy jobs. With interviews from practitioners from American Electric Power, Red Cedar Gathering, Trinity Consultants, and Cority, this eBook provides practical advice to advance your air emissions monitoring and reporting programs.

  • What Every EHS Professional Should Know About ESG

    Join experts from Arcadis and Cority on April 27th to learn the most common ESG reporting frameworks and how technology can help you improve reporting efficiency, identify areas for improvement, and create defensible audit trails.

  • Green Quadrant EHS Software 2021

    Read the new report by independent analyst firm, Verdantix, to get an unbiased comparison of the 22 most prominent EHS software vendors in the industry.

  • RFP Template for Waste Management Software

    Learn the essential questions to ask when evaluating waste management software solutions with this free, ready-to-use RFP template

  • 5 Keys to Best-in-Class Chemical Management

    Running a safe chemical program is challenging and complex: from knowing what's on-site to proper handling and disposal - all while navigating regulatory changes. Learn the best ways to mitigate chemical risk, get the most value out of your data, and gain buy-in for a chemical management solution.

Featured Webinar