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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Keep Track of Harmful Wastewater Levels to Protect Rivers

Mar 27, 2016 12:23AM

The Friends of the Chicago River points out that April showers bring more sewage and pollution to our rivers. Overflow Action Days ( is a call to action to take simple steps at home to help reduce sewage to the river. People can sign up for e-alerts, learn more about this initiative, sign a pledge to conserve water at home, share with friends and family or download a simple guide to water conservation.

It may come as a surprise to many people that conserving water at home plays a role in protecting our local waterways. Showers are a major culprit, because just like a full bathtub with a running faucet, the pipes in our sewer system can only handle a certain volume of water before it overflows. When there is too much wastewater and it combines with stormwater, sewer pipes fill up to capacity and excess water is released to our rivers and sometimes, Lake Michigan.

This excess water, which includes sewage, pollutants and litter, is called a combined sewer overflow (CSO). Unknowingly, when we run our faucets, dishwashers, laundry machines or showers during a rain event, we may be overwhelming our sewer systems.


Established in 1979, The Friends of the Chicago River is the only organization solely dedicated to the Chicago River. For more information, call 312-939-0490 or visit