High levels of bacteria from sewage in the Chicago River

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CHICAGO – There are high levels of bacteria from human and wildlife waste along several spots of the Chicago River.

The government agency that controls Chicago waterways says it’s still safe for kayakers and canoers, but swimmers should stay out. It’s currently working on ways to clean the river up.

The bacteria levels increased due to the high amount of rain that Chicagoland has gotten this summer.

When it rains, water drains into the storm sewers and comes into contact with sewage on its way to be treated. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District has to make a choice when it overflows: release some of the tainted water into the Chicago and suburban rivers, or take the chance it backs up into businesses or people’s homes.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District plans on beginning several projects in the next year which should help disinfect the water.

In general though, the water is still much cleaner than it once was. 20 years ago, only 7 different types of fish could be found in the river. Now, that number is up to 70.