Experts: Low water levels could reverse flow of Chicago River

CHICAGO — Environmental experts said low water levels could reverse the flow of the Chicago River. That would send untreated raw sewage into Lake Michigan.

If the water level on the lake drops by just six inches, experts said that would reverse the flow and cause it to go into the Great Lakes.

"Our river is 70 percent sewage. I think we need to recognize that," said Henry Henderson of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This is an open sewer. It depends upon gravity to go away from us. If that gravity does not work with the lake going down, it goes the other way."

Chicago gets its drinking water from Lake Michigan.

The Army Corps of Engineers is keeping watch over the water levels.

There area also plans for the city to disinfect the waste water pumped into the Chicago River. But it could be years before that system is in place.

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