CHICAGO, May 17 (UPI) -- A conservation group says the daily discharge of 1.2 billion gallons of undisinfected sewage effluent into the Chicago River system threatens public health.
The American Rivers organization has placed the Chicago River, which supports more than 6 million residents regionally as it flows through the nation's third-largest city, on its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers.
Undisinfected sewage effluent, released by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, threatens public health and the city's environmental reputation, the organization said in a release Tuesday.
The effluent comprises 70 percent of the water in the Chicago River system, it said.
American Rivers is urging the Illinois Pollution Control Board to approve proposed water quality standards for the Chicago River that have not been reviewed in more than two decades, standards that would require the district to disinfect sewage effluent.
"It's unacceptable that the people of Chicago are being denied basic, modern disinfection techniques used by nearly every other city in the country," Gary Belan of American Rivers said. "This as an opportunity not only to protect public health, but to make a clean and healthy Chicago River the centerpiece of a revitalized waterfront and world-class city."