Preserving the water supply

Chicago drastically differs from other cities such as San Diego, since California has a state wide initiative to incentivize municipalities to take the lead role and innovative steps in creating a city with modern environmental standards. These cities look to implement environmental policy in order to preserve their natural resources and environment. California has implemented multiple environmental policies in order to address all possible risks of pollution. The city of Chicago takes its water supply for granted since it is located directly next to its source of abundant drinking water, but fails to recognize how vital this natural resource is. The city originally had installed a sewer system that combined the water run off from storms to with raw sewage, introducing a new threat on top of flooding; bacterial exposure. Raw sewage contains millions of bacterial colonies such as Hepatitis A, Leptospirosis, Tenanus and E coli, which can complicate health and potentially cause death.

In response to this complex public health threat, the city’s Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) engineered a massive project titled, “Tunnel and Reservoir Project” to handle excess water overflow without endangering the public. This tunnel is 300 feet below ground and 109 miles long underneath the city leading to several reservoirs such as the Thornton reservoir, which used to be an active quarry, but has now been allocated as a massive storage facility. This development was created in order to reduce basement flooding as well as to prevent the contamination of fresh water and has been effective in doing so. Urban and regional politics need to communicate in order to produce an effective resolution to environmental problems such as flooding problems. Individuals can help this policy increase efficiency by maintaining sewers to remain open, and collecting rain water so the amount entering the sewer system does not overwhelm this infrastructure. 

Citations

http://www.chicagotribune.com/ct-chicago-river-pollution-map-20150827-htmlstory.html

http://www.chicagoriver.org/about-the-river/tunnel-and-reservoir-plan

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