Chicago River Summit
Last summer, 11 intrepid individuals jumped into the Chicago Cal-Sag Channel as part of the Cal-Sag Plunge. This monumental occasion signified that the more than 100-year history of the river as a sewage canal is over and recreation in, on, and along the water is here to stay. But is the river really safe enough for swimming? Who says so? And how do they know?
Please join Friends of the Chicago River, Doug McConnell, Don Macdonald along with other water quality experts, policy advocates, and urban swimming champions as we explore these questions and discuss how to make swimming in the Chicago River system a reality.
Speakers include David Barra, New York Open Water; Jessica Dexter, Environmental Law & Policy Center; Willie Levenson, Human Access Project; and David St, Pierre, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. A panel discussion will follow.
Awesome to see one of the most awesomely polluted bodies of the water in the U.S. is getting cleaned up.
I will not be impressed until Chicago swimmers lobby the city to open the lock and allow a marathon swim to finish in Lake Michigan.
Kidding... but at the same time Lake Michgan is still so under-swum... and already pretty clean!
So how'd it go, @david_barra , @bigmacattack5?
Will there be a Chicago River Marathon Swim?
Good question. I can't answer that, but I can say that it certainly looks like it could be a fun urban venue for one.
It was a good summit with lots of information shared. My guess is there are quite a few organizations that will formulate an action plan and maybe form alliances to further their goals.
My takeaway is this:
The Chicago River system is swimmable (at least a good chunk of it), but saying that to most people is like saying play doh is edible... it won't kill you if you eat it, but it won't be a pleasant experience. Openwater swimmers are indeed the exception. Host an event and they will come. Additionally, OW events require very little infrastructure and there appears to be at least a few locals interested in putting something together.
Other organizations are actively planning the expansion of water level paths and access points which may include swimming opportunities in the future.
...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.