Water quality in Chicago's rivers improving, but still needs work - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Water quality in Chicago's rivers improving, but still needs work

Credit: Shanthanu Bhardwaj

Most folks in Chicago think of an afternoon picnic, a leisurely stroll or a day of fishing as lakefront, rather than riverfront, activities.

When talking about the rivers with your neighbor or coworkers, you’re likely to encounter a perception that they are polluted and not attractive or pleasant to visit. While there is a growing community that frequents the rivers—from kayakers and rowers to birders and naturalists—many of Chicagoland’s residents continue to look outside the city for interaction with natural assets.

In spite of this negative perception, there is great potential in our river system. When Great Rivers Chicago surveyed more than 3,700 local residents and business owners, we found overwhelming agreement that our rivers should be cleaner, healthier places—not only for people but also for plants and animals. Continue reading to learn how water quality will be a key part of the Great Rivers Chicago vision to make our waterways a place where people will want to spend time. >>


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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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