CHICAGO AND ENVIRONS
                        H.  W,  Poaton
                  Regional Program  Director
              Water Supply and Pollution Control
                   Public Health Service
Presented before Natural Resources aarid Power Subcommittee of
the House Committee on Government Operations at Chicago, Illinois
September 6, 1963

     It Is my pleasure to present_, on behalf of the 'Department
of Health, Education, and Welfare, this summary statement con-
cerning the water quality activities and findings of the Depart-
ment In this area.  A more detailed statement;, entitled "Statement
on Water Quality Conditions, Chicago and Environs," is being
submitted for the record.
     Following entry of the United States Government aa a party
litigant in the currant Chicago diversion case in February 1960, the
Department of Jxis.ti.ce requested the Public Health Service to
study the Illinois Waterway with the objective In mind of pre-
senting evidence of quality or probable quality of water in the
waterway under several different hypotheses Including no changes
in the present method of waste disposal, partial changes, or
return of effluents to Lake Michigan,  To accomplish this purpose,
while at the aam? time developing long-range comprehensive basin-
wide plans, the Chicago-based Great Lakes-IIlinois River Basin
Project was created In September, I960.  The Project is administered
by the Division of Water Supply and Pollution Control, Public
Health Service.  The Information presented here is based largely
upon the intensive investigations carried out by the Project in
the past three years.
     The metropolitan area of Chicago Is characterized by its
diversity of Industrial and other economic activities, and by
the variety and complexity of water quality conditions and.
problems found In the area.

     Within the Greater Chicago area are more than 300 sewerage
systems, ranging In size from small Institutional plants to the
three large plants of the Metropolitan Sanitary District of
Greater Chicago.  Largest of the latter is the West-Southwest
Sewage Treatment Plant which Is also the largest municipal
secondary treatment plant in the world..
     Among the area's treatment plants are 42 .Federally-aided
projects serving 490,000 people.  These projects have received
Federal construction grants totaling $5 million in support of
an estimated construction cost of $19.6 million.  Of the 24
significant Federal installations in the area, eighteen have
waste treatment facilities handling a combined total of almost
5.5 million gallons per day.  An active evaluation program, of
all Federal installations is currently under way.
     The estimated total population served by organized community
sewer systems in the area is about 6.,350/000.  Industrial wastes
contributed to these systems add organic waste loads equivalent
to that from a population of about 3,510,000.  The total load
received has a population equivalent of approximately 9,860,000.
In general., the treatment plants in the area achieve a commendably
high efficiency in the reduction of biochemical oxygen demand. -
typical values ranging from 85 to 90 per cent.
     The total municipally-treated waste load discharged has a
population equivalent of approximately 1,290,000.  An almost
equal amount, 1,180,000 in terms, of population equivalent, is

discharged separately by Industry.  Moat of the irv±u.atries

provide' some type of treatment facilities.  Represented among

these industries are 20 chemical plants,, 11 iron and steel

plants, 6 by-product coke plants,, ^ paper and allied product

plants, 7 oil refineries, and 15 food processing plants.  Many

industries discharge pollutants other than oxygen-demanding

wastes that can adversely affect the receiving waters.  Chief

among these are inert solids, oil, dissolved solids, inorganic

chemicals and certain organic chemicals and nutrients,

     Many of the major industries have exerted considerable

effort to control their waste discharges and prevent water quality

problems.  Instituted corrective measures Include closer control

of plant operations to reduce the quantity of material entering

sewers,, and facilities designed for separation,, neutralisation,

and/or reduction of potential pollutants from the waste water

before release.

     Although much has 'been done by both public agencies and

Industry, a great deal, more remains to be done, as evidenced

by the degraded condition of receiving waters throughout most of

the area.  The nature of the complex problem is perhaps best

characterized by noting that, even after tree,tenant, the residue

discharged is equal in pollutional effect to the waste produced

in a city of almost 2j+ million people „  Due to Chicago's location

atop the divide between two major drainage basins, the small

streams in the area, have virtually no dry-weather flow for assim-

ilation and transport of residual wastes except the flow

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artificially provided by diversion from Lake Michigan.  The
.receiving streams are, there?fore, typically deficient in the
dissolved oxygen, required to permit self-purification under-
aerobic conditions,; therefore, anaerobic dec	imposition results
and. produces unpleasant odor.3, contributes to unsightly appear-
ance, and prevents the growth of desirable aquatic life.
     Other conditions indicative of polluted water include
widespread presence of oil and. floating debris; detergent foam
below spillways and treatment plant outfalls; high concentrations
of coHform bacteria, the indirect indicators of fecal pollution,
plus the confirmed presence of pathogenic bacteria and viruses;
and high concentrations of the nutrients that promote an over-
enriched aquatic environment farther downstream.  In the Pox
Chain O1Lakes and,, to a somewhat lesser degree, in the Inshore
waters along Lake Michigan, over-fertilization of the water
leads to prolific growths of algae which, in certain seasons,
cover the surface,, pile up onto shores  and beaches, clog
water intakes t and generally Interfere with water uses ranging
from the purely esthetic to those absolutely essential.  It is
possible, at this time, to Identify the major elements of the
problem and to suggest thoae measures on which a concentration
of effort may be expected to yield the most immediate and
greatest Improvement.  We do not suggest, however,, that these
will result in providing a. water quality which will meet
everyone's needs or desires.

                              	  l"'\ -PI-

       Outstanding  at  Chicago, as wall  as  at many other cltleSj

  is  the  problem, of storm water  overflows  from combined a ewer y.

  The overflow to streams of the mixture of sewage and urban

  runoff  from  approximately 350  points  within the area, served "by

  the Metropolitan  Sanitary District  has been roughly estlmat-ed

  at  a third as much as  the combined  load  from the District treat-

  ment plants *  Moreover, this 'mixture  contains a high percentage

  of  suspended organic solids which,,  as the storm subsides, settle

  to  the  bottom of  the more quiescent channel waters, where It

  exerts  a continuing  demand on  the stream's oxygen, resources*

  Ways must be found either to convey a larger portion of this

  spillage to  treatment  plants or to  effect other measures for Its


       Disinfection of the area1a treatment plant effluents Is

  recommended.  Since  such disinfection la not completely effective

  In  destroying micro-organisms, and  field sampling at Chicago

•  Indicates that re-growth occurs Iri  the stream^ experiments

  should  be conducted  to improve arid  increase reliability of

  disinfection methods„

       As our  society  progresses and  expands j, we find not only

  Increasing water  quality ehallenges resulting from technolo-

  gical advances, but  also problems  involving such matters as

  boat pollution.  Because of the heavy concentrations of boats

  In  limited geographical water  areas,  Increasing attention must

  be  given to  the control of harmful  discharges from boats.

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     The salient .features of an at back,  on 'water pollution In.

the Greater Chicago a.r-ea can. 'be .-naamarlzed  as  follows it
                   s;'; "'^e source of a greater  percentage of
         certain ma.,ter:l.a,Is ^ particularly  Industrial wastes,,

     2,  Improvement in the collection of waste waters,,  to
         minimize the quantities' or' waste now  reaching streams
         without treatment ,»

     3*  Improvement In treatment^ of waste waters*  This. includes
         both advaneemenTTlil' of treatment techniques
         and more universal application of existing knowledge*

     4.  Better management of stream flow regulatltm to  provide
         the minimum stream f lows~"wh'ich, '  IH~^Ee~pre s ent  state
         of our knowledge, are still needed  to assimilate and .
         transport waste water and its residual wastes,  if
         undesirable downstream conditions are to be prevented,

     5»  Monitoring.,, survell lane e^, and^ pol i c ing^ together with
         eTill.gfitene1r"arr3~ aggreaaTve managemenrof treatment
         works, ensure that full benefits will be obtained
         from the costly investments that are  an Inescapable
         part of satisfactory waste disposal,

     Research Is needed in the many fields related to this.

complex problem.  But Improvements are urgently needed today

and we should not await the hoped-for breakthroughs in knowledge

before attacking the problem with those measures available now,