Cleaning Up an Effluent Society

What's driving Chicago to pour $3 billion into a 109-mile network of tunnels and reservoirs hacked out of the limestone underlying the Windy City? It's the same fetid force that spurred Los Angeles voters to O.K. a $500 million bond last November. Construction titans and big-box retailers are getting more serious about it, too. It's causing thousands of other U.S. cities and companies to yank up manhole covers and storm grates and take a closer look at the witches' brew of garbage, hydrocarbons, and bacteria that flows down curbside drains and eventually into local waters.

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