Those who have watched the old Universal Sports channel, broadcast in Chicago three years ago, might have seen events performed on the Han River in South Korea. Now if that river is clean enough to swim and boat in, we would deem that the smaller Chicago River could also be made clean enough to enjoy water sports in.

There are some problems I note with how the river is all ready used, however. Now there are pros and cons to attempts to attract tourists and residents to Chicago’s vibrant lakefront and along the riverfront, such as developing high-end real estate for hotels and condominiums and boutique shoppes, but where there are people and pets there is trash and waste.

Waste products are the very thing the millions of dollars allocated to clean the river are meant to get rid of. The talk is of reducing or sterilizing the stuff that comes from water treatment plants/ sewage, and that is well and good. But trash gets into the water every day, from daily use of the river. Wrappers, food scraps, and probably pet waste, ends up sooner or later in the river and along its banks. Getting rid of those problems would be as equal a challenge as working on the flushed and treated water we use every day. Of course there are the birds that frequent the waters too- and we know the issues that can come forth from birds, especially when food is in the offering.

Gulls just love to be where there are food scraps to scavenge, and crows love to forage as well. The Canada Geese however are so abundant that they do more than just entertain bird lovers with their antics of winging about looking for scraps. Canada Geese are noted for their- ahem- regular green deposits along waterways and sidewalks, which can in copious quantities be rather hard to avoid.

There are other causes of waste accumulation as well that need to be addressed, for the benefit of the entire environmental and water system of the city. The horse carriages that take tourists around also have drivers with the unfortunate habit of dumping the waste bags’ contents around residential areas and restaurants, and I have no doubt that sooner or later those wastes make it into the Chicago River and the sewers. Those who are around pets regularly also realize that waste products attract rats, and it would be nice if every consideration was made to ridding the waters and sidewalks of these residuals. People who litter are equaly as inconsiderate as pet owners who do not properly clean after their dogs- sooner or later that hot dog holder or hamburger wrapper might end up in the river.

Another problem area, from which trash might make its way into the main river system, are along the river and stream banks seen on the BNSF train route. I have seen enough trash and debris along those water systems to keep an army of cleaner-uppers occupied for weeks on end to get those areas in shape. Runoff from that disgusting stuff makes its way no doubt into the water systems we all use, and from the looks of some of the stuff lining those banks I hope the water management system is up to handling tons more of really foul looking garbage. I just wonder that the people who live along those waterways do not put much effort into getting down there and cleaning up or getting the proper authorities to handle the situation if there is indeed toxic material on those banks. It would be worth the time of the officials in the areas lining that train route to carefully inspect those water systems and see the depth of the situation and get the residents and businesses involved in making everything look a lot better.

Fortunately there are people who are trying to make a dent in the trash and waste problem, those who want to keep the river system as clean as possible, and who are arranging days on which to put effort forward to keep the waters as free of waste as possible. Some folks have been doing this for years now, and I hope the efforts continue long after the dedicated days of cleanup and revitalization are finished. Policing the waterways is of vital importance and should be done regularly.

Take it to heart, folks, when you put some good elbow grease into making the environment better, you do more than the literal work that is visible for a day or so. Think about it!

Divi and ®EDUSHIRTS, ©2004 – 2012. E-mail me with comments, questions, or for use permission at Courtesy counts. Thank you!


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