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U.S. Sues Chicago-Area Water Management Agency for Pollution

The U.S. government and the state of Illinois sued the agency responsible for managing almost 900 square miles of Chicago-area waterways, accusing it of violating the federal Clean Water Act.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, an agency independent from the America’s third-largest city, has failed to treat properly sewage and wastewater flowing into the 883.6 square miles of waterways under its jurisdiction, according to a complaint filed today in Chicago.

“For many years, the defendant has discharged untreated sewage through overflows from combined sewer outfalls in its sewage collection systems into navigable waters flowing through and around the City of Chicago,” according to the complaint.

Among the waterways are the Chicago River, which flows through the center of the city of about 2.8 million people.

The state and federal governments asked for a court order barring the agency from continuing to violate the Clean Water Act and imposing civil penalties of as much $37,500 per day for dating to January 1997.

Jennifer Burns, a spokeswoman for the water reclamation district, declined to comment immediately on the lawsuit.

The case is U.S. v. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, 11-cv-8859, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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