Can Drought Reverse the Chicago River?

Local Impact of Climate Change

Water levels on Lake Michigan are the lowest in recorded history. If the level continues to drop, the Chicago River could reverse itself and send untreated sewage into Lake Michigan, says ABC 7 News, Chicago.

Why are the water levels so low? Blame the ongoing Midwest drought. Forty percent of the state of Illinois is still under drought conditions. And as was reported by Reuters last November, Lake Michigan has been hit particularly hard by the drop in water levels.

The Chicago River is 70% sewage. It depends upon gravity to flow away from Chicago’s primary source of drinking water. If that gravity does not work because the lake levels have dropped, the river and all its contaminants will flow directly into Lake Michigan.  More …

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