In the News

Water quality, public access, and environmental justice issues of the Chicago-Calumet River system were the focus on an in-depth, front-page Chicago Tribune story last week, which highlighted data from our Natural Solutions Tool and included expert comments by Friends’ Director of Policy and Conservation John Quail.

Read the Story

As reported, “Approximately 93% of residents within a 10-minute walk from the Calumet River between the lake and South Halsted Street are either Black or Hispanic, and the river’s surrounding communities are 86% to 100% communities of color, according to a demographic analysis from Friends of the Chicago River with their Trust for Public Land Natural Solutions Tool. The same tool indicates the East Side community area — which is east of the river and flanked by Indiana — has between 60% and 70% of impervious cover or impermeable surfaces, a characteristic that makes a location more vulnerable to severe flooding since most of its ground area doesn’t absorb rainwater.”

“There should be a higher priority put on managing (land) to address equity, to address environmental justice,” Quail said, “whether that’s through recreation — there’s techniques to take open space and convert it into stormwater storage but in a garden-like setting, so it creates community benefit for recreation and aesthetics, but also deals with flooding.”

The comprehensive Tribune story also featured the work and expertise of our partners at Current, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and Openlands.