Summer Float Party Raises Clean Water Awareness

Elected officials, families, and friends came together at the inaugural Summer Float Party to build awareness for water quality standards that protect much of the river system for swimming and to celebrate the river’s improved health. Participants set off from the Dammrich Rowing Center in Skokie and floated along the North Shore Channel on an array of inner tubes, floating loungers, and inflatable toys.

Hosted by Friends of the Chicago River and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Josina Morita, the Summer Float Party is an evolution of the Big Jump where elected officials jumped in the Chicago River at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood.

Summer Float on ABC 7

“The river system is healthier than it has been in over 100 years. Despite continued impacts from sewage and stormwater pollution and the climate crisis, it is alive with wildlife and people who now consider it a valuable natural resource,” said Margaret Frisbie, Executive Director of Friends of the Chicago River. “Yet we have not met our goal for swimming in the river which was approved in 2011 by USEPA. This year’s Float Party and the Big Jump before are meant as a call to action for regulators to step up and work with us on an action plan.”

A 2020 report by MWRD and our partners at the Shedd Aquarium showed increasing numbers of fish species and an overall decline in invasive species in the Chicago River. American eels and fingernail clams, two species indicative of good water quality, have been found in increasing numbers within the river’s waters. According to MWRD, water quality stations are consistently recording levels well within the IEPA safety targets for Primary Contact Recreation waters.

“As Commissioner one of my top priorities is the health of our local water systems, and ensuring it’s a safe, hospitable place for animals, plants and families alike. I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made in turning our rivers into a resource everyone can enjoy,” said MWRD Commissioner Josina Morita.

Elected officials who participated in the event include Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore, State Senator Ram Villivalam, State Senator Laura Fine, State Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen, Skokie Trustee Keith A. Robinson, Skokie Park District President Mike Reid and Skokie Park District Commissioner Mary Oshana.

Thank you to Coors Light from the Molson Coors Beverage Company for their sponsorship of the Summer Float Party.

“All the diverse communities of the Chicago River system benefit from safeguarding it as a wondrous natural resource full of healthy, natural habitat for people and wildlife,” said Michael Nordman, Senior Manager of Community Affairs at Molson Coors Beverage Company. “We are proud to support the Summer Float Party and Friends of the Chicago River in making a positive impact for the benefit of the Chicago River system.”