New Chloride Standards for the Chicago River

Friends of the Chicago River pic
Friends of the Chicago River

Jerome Eberle is a publishing professional who earned his bachelor’s degree from North Park University in Chicago, Illinois. Outside of work, Jerome Eberle engages in charitable activities that include involvement with Friends of the Chicago River.

The only organization focusing exclusively on the Chicago River, Friends was founded in 1997 and works to improve the health of the river for the benefit of all. The organization’s work involves the entire 156-mile stretch of the river and the corresponding watershed area.

One of its recent advocacy efforts dealt with the level of chloride in the river. Salt is heavily used by municipalities across the Chicago River watershed during the winter to combat the snow and ice that causes dangerous road conditions. The salt eventually finds its way into the river system as the snow melts and drains into the river. The accumulation of salt or chloride has harmed the river system, producing a toxic environment for fish and other wildlife.

Friends and its environmental partners advocated for new river chloride standards. The new chloride standards were approved in August 2015 by the Illinois Pollution Control Board. During the winter months, it is at 1,500 milligrams per liter (mg/l) and during the summer it is at 500 mg/l. It will be 500 mg/l throughout the year after 2018.