Sewer Overflow


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.




4 thoughts on “Sewer Overflow

  1. I think that would be a good idea for Chicago to do if we want to become a greener city. Chicago could use that as way to grow food for the poorer communities. For example, the water could arrogate food in some community gardens which can help the people who live in food deserts get alternative foods. Also, it is good because people would not have to worry about wastewater over flowing in sewers. Furthermore, this could possibly be a movement in Chicago in where people who live in such communities would be inspire to create their own gardens to get fresh food and vegetation because of the access of water being used. Also, this could help with Chicago future water crisis because we wouldn’t have to use the water we already have from Lake Michigan.


  2. I agree with the fact that excess water is and will become a more severe problem as the climate changes. Creating more green space in urban areas to help absorb some of that excess water is a great plan that can be easily implemented. Aside from helping alleviate the issue of water pollution, the addition of more green space in various ways across the city will be aesthetically pleasing to those near by. These green spaces can serve as symbols and examples of urban sustainability.


  3. This is really interesting this is the first I’ve heard of this issue the idea to plant more green space to soak up the water would help to solve 2 problems at once; the flooding & contamination issue as well as increasing green space in our city.


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