Chicago’s sewers were designed to collect stormwater and sewage (human waste). The sewers lead to treatment plants. But, as the global climate continues to get even more thrown off storms will become more severe, creating an overflow of water in the sewage system. Especially since there is an abundance of non green areas such as rooftops and roads, the water is not being cycled through its natural process. That overflow of untreated sewage and stormwater ends up in the Chicago River. The contamination of the river negatively effects the habitat of the water as well as neighbors to the area. Some people living near the river may experience flooding in their basements from an overflow. The overflow of storm water is one of the leading causes of water pollution.
To look for solutions we can take examples from other cities that are doing it well. For example, New York is taking the “problem” of wastewater and making it part of the solution. They have implemented green infrastructure which absorbs rainwater before it goes into the sewage system by basically creating plant life wherever they possibly can (ie. green roofs, sidewalk planters, porous pavements). Not only is it beneficial, it brings nature into the grey urban environment.