Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski announced plans Tuesday to eliminate sewage dumping into Lake Michigan.
Kirk said he plans to build a reservoir system that will “clean up the crown jewel of the ecosystem for this area-- Lake Michigan.”
Lake Michigan’s pollution has been on the Senator’s radar for quite some time as beach closings due to poor water quality continue to increase. Kirk noted that 416 beach days have been lost due to poor water quality, sighting repeated closings at Rainbow and Calumet beaches in the city.
Currently, Chicago dumps 244 gallons of sewage per person into Lake Michigan, and those numbers were affected heavily after recent flooding forced the area to increase dumping.
Nearly 11 gallons of sewage were dumped into Lake Michigan after the flooding, Kirk said.
“If our current plans to build reservoirs are met than a flood event like what you went through could be handled without excessive dumping,” Kirk said.
A bill Lipinski and Kirk are looking to pass would ban sewage dumping in the Great Lakes and force a $100,000 fine for any dumping that occurs. Money from those fines would then go into furthering local infrastructures to eliminate the need for dumping, Lipinski said.
“We need to deter the polluters,” he said.
And Kirk said he hopes the reservoir plan will do just that.
“That would be my hope, to be such a good steward of Lake Michigan that we could go through an event like we just had where we don’t have dumping,” he said. “I’m standing behind the basic principle you don’t dump into your source of drinking water.”