Great Rivers Chicago - Press Statement from Healthy Water Solutions

Our Great Rivers: An Opportunity to Create Good Jobs, Lift Up Our Communities, and Restore Our Urban Waterfront

CHICAGO (August 17, 2016) – Today, the City of Chicago and the Metropolitan Planning Council, in partnership with Friends of the Chicago River and others, released a report detailing a vision for the future of our city’s Calumet, Chicago and Des Plaines rivers and riverfronts. The report is the result of outreach conducted since spring 2015 to business owners, community leaders and members of the general public.

Pulling together work and priorities from many areas, the vision is an important next step in a greatly needed process to transform the rivers after years of treating them primarily as channels for carrying sewage downstream and moving barge traffic through Chicago. The report sets goals for 2020, 2030 and 2040, but does not include a timeline for steps to make progress towards those goals. We hope to see concrete actions in the coming years that exemplify a commitment to achieving long-term goals to improve the rivers.

We are excited to see a shared vision for improving water quality, preventing the movement of aquatic invasive species, and enhancing communities and habitats in and along the waterways. What remains to be determined is whether and how such improvements can be reconciled with other visions included in the report such as those regarding industrial and navigational use of the rivers. This vision for our rivers of the future is possible because of the investments we have all made in clean water infrastructure. We know that we can provide good jobs and a ripple of positive economic benefits throughout the region by making further investments to improve water quality and make the rivers great assets to our communities.

The leaders of this visioning effort engaged in tireless work to incorporate numerous priorities and perspectives. We anticipate further efforts to integrate all voices and communities in implementing this vision. All of our communities have a right to clean water and a healthy environment, and we can create good jobs for those who need them most by implementing this vision in partnership with community members and their local leaders. As efforts to improve the rivers continue, we look to see how community concerns are incorporated in the process and whether community-specific priorities are included in the shaping of the vision.

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Contacts:

Jennifer Caddick, Alliance for the Great Lakes, (315) 767-2802

Margie Kelly, Natural Resources Defense Council, (312) 651-7935

Robert Hirschfeld, Prairie Rivers Network, (217) 344-2371 x205

Katrina Phillips, Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter, (312) 251-1680 x116

Photo by Doug Sun Beams
Photo by Doug Sun Beams

Posted August 17, 2016