Sold-Out Chicago River Summit Explores Possibilities of Urban Swimming

Richard Wilson, Commissioner Josina Morita, Gavin Van Horn

On March 9, 2017, Friends united water quality experts, policy advocates, and urban swimming champions to explore the possibility of swimming in the Chicago River system. Hosted by MillerCoors, the 2017 Chicago River Summit featured speakers David Barra, of New York Open Water; Jessica Dexter, from the Environmental Law & Policy Center; Willie Levenson, of Portland's Human Access Project; David St. Pierre, from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD); and John Quail, from Friends of the Chicago River.

A Possibilities Panel followed, moderated by Elizabeth Bracket of WTTW and featuring Margaret Frisbie (Friends of the Chicago River), MWRD Commissioner Josina Morita, Gavin Van Horn (Center for Humans and Nature), and Richard Wilson (Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture). This inspiring half-day event provided a forum for understanding the history and renaissance of the Chicago River system, while offering examples of successes in other cities and practical steps for advocacy. Q&As after each session enabled attendees to deepen their awareness and interact with a diverse community of river supporters.

Several elected officials attended the sold-out summit, including Chicago 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos, and MWRD Chairman of Finance Frank Avila.

As today's Chicago Sun-Times and DNAinfo articles explain, swimming in our river system is not so far away!