Clean Water

More than 30 million people depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water. The Great Lakes, and increasingly the Chicago River, provide recreation for many millions more.

Drinking water and recreation depend upon safe, clean water.


  • A multi-year strategy now underway will enlarge Chicago sewage tunnels and stormwater reservoirs to reduce the frequency of polluting sewer overflows into Lake Michigan.
  • In addition, a new initiative would disinfect Chicago’s treated sewage, an additional treatment step using ultraviolet light that further cleans the effluent before it is returned to the Chicago River.
  • Separation gives an opportunity for Illinois to focus on improving all of its water systems, upgrading wastewater treatment facilities, and meeting the highest standards for clean water, in the Chicago River and in Lake Michigan. It is only right that Illinois meet its responsibility to provide clean water to its citizens.
  • Not only would separation stop the transfer of Asian Carp, it would also stop new non-native invasives, such as new viruses or bacteria, plants and algae, that could endanger human health in ways that cannot now be anticipated. Stopping the free transfer of species could give Chicagoans time and opportunity to protect themselves from new invasive dangers as they emerge, and before they can proliferate throughout the region.

Modernizing sewage treatment, blocking species from invading Lake Michigan, and restoring the natural separation between the Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River Basins will allow Chicagoans to deepen their relationships to and enjoyment of city riverways and the Lake Michigan coast. These steps also help protect their health.