Clean Water Act and the Chicago River

North Branch of the Chicago River at LaBagh Woods.

With the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act on October 18, 2022, Friends’ Executive Director Margaret Frisbie joined WGN News anchor Lourdes Duarte on a tour of the Chicago River, reflecting on the importance of the Clean Water Act to the river’s renaissance and its ongoing protection. 

The Clean Water Act was passed by Congress on October 18, 1972 overriding a veto by then President Richard M. Nixon. The most important tool in the land for protecting our rivers, lakes, streams, ponds and wetlands, the Clean Water Act has provided the rules, regulations, and framework needed to fight for clean water and protect people and aquatic life. It has been instrumental to Friends’ success and underlies our efforts to make the river fishable and swimmable, which is shorthand for “the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife, and to provide for recreation in and on the water.”