The Chicago Area Waterways Chloride Workgroup was formed in 2021 by municipalities, wastewater treatment plant operators, transportation entities, industrial dischargers and other stakeholders located in the Chicago Area Waterways System watershed. The workgroup’s primary efforts are to work together to address chlorides in our local waterways and improve the water quality by reducing chloride discharges.
The Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS) covers a large portion of Cook County and some parts of northern Will County. The entire system is a man-made watershed system that connects Lake Michigan with the Mississippi River. The CAWS includes the Chicago River (including both its north and south branches and bubbly creek), the North Shore Channel, the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal, the Cal-Sag Channel and the Calumet Rivers. The water levels in the CAWS are controlled to be lower than the water level in Lake Michigan, essentially directing the flow away from Lake Michigan. Historically, the CAWS was used as a primary shipping and transport water highway, but in recent years has also been used for recreation.
- The Chicago Area Waterways Chloride Workgroup coordinates chloride reduction and reporting efforts for the Time Limited Water Quality Standard for Chloride. We work closely with the Lower Des Plaines Watershed Group on our chloride reduction efforts.
- The workgroup provides consistent outreach and messaging around chlorides, working alongside other watershed groups in the region.
- The workgroup is participating in the development of a state-wide parking lots and sidewalks winter maintenance training program aimed at reducing chloride use while keeping surfaces safe.