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Learning to Not Fear the River

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Hold on to your hats— by 2016 the Chicago River may actually be swimmable. Except for all those lunatic kayakers who relish primary contact, the general public tends to gaze down on the river with distrust. That may change after a few years worth of disinfecting effluent at the North Side and Calumet water treatment plants. Soaring recreational interest in the waterway had put pressure on regulatory bodies to kick disinfecting into high gear. Only three of seven water reclamation plants currently treat wastewater before sending it back out into the river. Adding a fourth and fifth will make a big difference. The enjoyment that kayakers, turtles, mink, and beaver have learned to derive from the river should infect the masses (no pun intended) in a few short years. [Medill Reports]