nasa cairo flood image

Photo credit: NASA

American Rivers, a national river conservation organization, named both the Chicago and Mississippi Rivers in its 2011 “America’s Most Endangered Rivers” report issued earlier this week. The list “…is a call to action for rivers at a crossroads, whose fates will be determined in the coming year.”

For the Chicago River, the report highlights the 1.2 billion gallons of sewage effluent released daily into the Chicago River that has not been disinfected. This polluted water creates threats to public health that could be alleviated if Chicago’s Metropolitan Water Reclamation District fully treated its sewage. In positive news, federal officials have stated that the current situation will not be allowed to continue.

The Mississippi River’s current record water levels and resulting unprecedented flooding caused American Rivers to give it the unusual designation of a “Special Mention” in its report. The economic damage from the flooding, the displacement of people and wildlife, and the impacts on water quality from sewage, excess nutrients and other pollution in the  flood waters underscore the need to rethink, recreate and adapt our flood prevention strategies and restoration efforts to work with, not against, the river. Read more about this issue.