By Michael Hawthorne Tribune reporter
2:42 p.m. CDT, June 2, 2011
The Illinois Pollution Control Board today took the first step toward designating stretches of the Chicago River, Cal-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River safe for “primary contact,” a legal term that includes activities such as kayaking, canoeing, boating, wading and swimming.
The rule-making panel’s 58-page order reflects a May 11 letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that demanded the changes, citing provisions in the 1972 Clean Water Act that require all of the nation’s lakes and rivers to eventually be safe enough for “recreation in and on the water.”
Few people think the waterways will ever become swimming attractions, but the panel’s order would make them safer for people who can ingest large amounts of bacteria while plying the waters.