Chicago Mayoral Election and the Chicago River: Our Views on the Issues

Friends of the Chicago River is a non-partisan organization devoted to improving and protecting the Chicago River system for people, plants and animals. We do not endorse political candidates. However, our mission is clear: We're working to make the Chicago River system one of the greatest rivers in the world.

Ahead of the Chicago mayoral election, here's what we want elected officials to know on a variety of river-related topics:

Clean Water and the Environment

Over the last two decades major investments in clean water technologies and new water quality standards have resulted in a vast improvement in ambient water quality yet too often there is still sewage and other pollution released into the river. We ask Chicago's elected officials to:

  • Adopt a zero tolerance policy for combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and set a CSO sunset date to end raw sewage discharges into the Chicago River.
  • Commit to a river-wide Litter Assessment to discover the sources of garbage pollution in the water and make plans to remove it and to stop it before it gets to the water.
  • Invest in nature based solutions to control stormwater runoff, help to reduce CSOs, reduce basement back-ups, and stop flooding.
  • Participate in the multijurisdictional Chlorides Task Force to reduce road salt impacts on fish and other aquatic life.
  • Partner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to monitor the river to find and eliminate illicit discharge connections and meet and exceed water quality standards.

Equitable Access

A great city has great public open spaces available to everyone. The river provides an opportunity to create new public space and connect communities.

We ask our elected officials to:

Protect Wildlife

Chicago is home to thousands of species of birds, mammals, and fish which are dependent on our natural resources for food, shelter, and for raising their young. Endangered by habitat loss, climate change threatens them further. 

We ask Chicago's elected officials to:

  • Endorse and support the newly created River Ecology and Governance Commission to ensure the creation and protection of natural riverbanks to provide ecologically healthy space for humans and wildlife.
  • Support the Wild Mile, the City's plan to create instream habitat, access to the water, scenic overlooks, and places for people to fish on the east side of Goose Island.
  • Support the eradication of invasive plants and aquatic life, and endorse the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to re-construct Brandon Road Lock & Dam to prevent aquatic invasive species transfer.

Overall Environmental Health

Public health is environmental health and clean air, clean water, and active enforcement of our environmental laws protect us all. We ask Chicago's elected officials to:

  • Reestablish the Chicago Department of Environment with staff dedicated to improving environmental health.
  • Consider climate change and develop strategies to reduce its immediate and long-term impacts on Chicago.

Help Us Continue to Improve and Protect the Chicago River: Join Today