Chicago River Paper

Topics: Water pollution, Chicago, Clean Water Act Pages: 6 (2285 words) Published: February 18, 2013
Chicago River Paper

The Chicago River Beginning to End

The Chicago River investigation was done to find out the health of the water in the river. It was also to learn more about how scientists check the health of water and what makes a river healthy. The Chicago River was named “Chicagoua” by Native American Tribes that first settled there. It was named after a wild garlic plant that grew there. These Native Americans were also the first to discover the portage between the Chicago River and Des Plaines River, which then attracted French to settle along the River around 1682. Later on as Chicago kept growing, the government made the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1848, which was used to let big ships travel down the Chicago River. As Chicago grew so did pollution, the sewage went directly to the river, and Industries started to dump its waste into the river. The most polluted spot was Bubbly Creek which had a horrible stench. They decided to make canals that reversed the flow of the river around the 1870s like the Main stem and the South branch of the river, keeping the waters away from Lake Michigan. The North Shore Channel was completed in 1910 and the last channel was completed in 1922 called Cal-Sag Channel. In the 1900s people started to enjoy the river again, fishing, boating, and even swimming. In 1922 the first water treatment plant happened named Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, then the North side Water Reclamation Plant in 1928, followed by the West Side Reclamation Plant in 1931, and the Southwest side Water Reclamation Plant in 1939. The River was also used as a home, residents moved into houseboats there to not pay taxes or rent, mostly during the great depression. During the 20th Century the river was becoming cleaner. In 1972 the Clean Water Act was passed, and this made it so nobody could dump pollutants into the water without a permit. In 1975 they constructed tunnels underground to store sewer when there is rainstorms. Finally they created a fish hotel in 2005 to provide a habitat for fish on the river. An important part of the river is the Chicago River’s watershed which the land that drains into a body of water like a stream, lake or wetland. Because water will go downhill, watersheds are located on the top of hills or mountains. Any changes to watersheds may affect the river, like cutting trees and building were prairies or forest used to be. The river tends to flood more often when it rains because so much water is reaching it so quickly because of these changes. The water may also pick up some pollutants such as salt, oil and sand and then that would also get into the river. The Chicago River was once filled with a variety of organisms now most of these have disappeared or some are only in small amounts. This is mostly because of habitat loss and fragmentation which is the habitats or wilderness being broken into small parts. This is all caused by human population growth and agriculture. The river has also suffered much dumping even

after the Clean Water Act of 1972. The toxins from the pollution don’t come from one source but instead many washed up chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, oil, into the river. There is also a excessive amount of nitrogen and phosphorous which fuel a population explosion of algae when they enter the water. The algae blocks light from entering the water causing plants to die. Then after numbers of algae die it is decomposed by bacteria that use oxygen from the water. This of course makes the aquatic animals die and then decompose which starts it all over again. There are also fecal coliform bacteria which is indicator to fecal matter in the water. This can mean that there is pathogenic bacteria that are in feces. This can come from the sewage and there are places like Metropolitan Water Reclamation District who do not treat its water before releasing it. Around the Chicago River is also many eroded places with tress almost...
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