Water and the Public Trust

Photo courtesy of WTTW.

Friends of the Chicago River applauds the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) for unanimously passing a resolution “recognizing water and sanitation as human rights that will remain in the public trust.”

Only a small fraction of the earth’s available water is fresh, and this water can be compromised by pollution and excessive withdrawal from lakes, rivers, aquifers, and other water bodies that put those watersheds at risk.

"Regardless of what neighborhood they live in, all residents have a fundamental right to have access to safe and clean drinking water," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "I applaud the MWRD for taking a stance against privatizing water in the City of Chicago, which would undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on our most vulnerable communities. Today and every day moving forward, we must continue to advocate for water equity and protect our residents' access to such a precious resource."

 According to the MWRD, the resolution is a response to the creation of the world's first water futures market in California on December 7, 2020.

"“Water is a public resource that should remain in the public trust to be safeguarded as a basic human right,” said Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River. “We applaud the resolution by the board of commissioners of the MWRD which underscores the important leadership of public agencies in the Great Lakes region to protect the right to clean water and healthy waterways for the natural environment.”

 The United Nations estimates that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water-stressed conditions.

 “Water is a necessary component of human life and all living beings,” said President Kari K. Steele. “Clean drinking water and sanitation are human rights essential for life and economic prosperity.”

 Friends’ Director of Conservation and Policy John Quail also submitted a letter to the MWRD in support of the resolution. Download a copy of the letter here