The river will flow temporarily into Lake Michigan, where it'll dump millions of gallons of raw sewage.

Heavy rain in Chicago has maxed out storm water storage facilities and caused officials to "re-reverse" the Chicago River into Lake Michigan, in an effort to lessen flooding in the city.

The river's flow was reversed a century ago to prevent sewage from draining into the city's drinking water source. This, it turns out, is still a very real concern. The Chicago Tribune reports that this reversal will allow "millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage to flow into the region's source of drinking water."

They report:

Tom LaPorte, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Water Management, said the city so far has not noticed any unusual contamination in water drawn from intake cribs farther out in the lake. 

Department officials are constantly monitoring the situation, LaPorte said, and as a precaution started adding more bacteria-killing chlorine to lake water before pumping it to 7 million people in Chicago and the suburbs.

Between 2000 and 2010, officials have reversed the river four times, during other severe storms. The Chicago Tribune notes that today is "the first time since July 2011 that district engineers redirected rain-swollen waterways back into the lake."

Nonetheless, it is an odd sight for Chicago residents today. Check out this video of the river, courtesy of WBEZ 91.5.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Smoke from the fires hangs over Brazil.
    Environment

    Why the Amazon Is on Fire

    The rash of wildfires now consuming the Amazon rainforest can be blamed on a host of human factors, from climate change to deforestation to Brazilian politics.

  2. An aerial photo of downtown Miami.
    Life

    The Fastest-Growing U.S. Cities Aren’t What You Think

    Looking at the population and job growth of large cities proper, rather than their metro areas, uncovers some surprises.

  3. Warren Logan
    Transportation

    A City Planner Makes a Case for Rethinking Public Consultation

    Warren Logan, a Bay Area transportation planner, has new ideas about how to truly engage diverse communities in city planning. Hint: It starts with listening.

  4. Graduates react near the end of commencement exercises at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.
    Life

    Where Do College Grads Live? The Top and Bottom U.S. Cities

    Even though superstar hubs top the list of the most educated cities, other cities are growing their share at a much faster rate.

  5. Environment

    What U.S. Cities Facing Climate Disaster Risks Are Least Prepared?

    New studies find cities most vulnerable to climate change disasters—heat waves, flooding, rising seas, drought—are the least prepared.

×