With the Lake Michigan to the east and the Chicago River winding through the heart of the city, Chicago maintains valuable water resources. Preservation of the lakeshore ensures clean drinking water and beaches while restoration of the Chicago River will open the city’s next recreational frontier under Mayor Emanuel’s leadership. Explore the links below to learn more about water in Chicago and how you can help protect and conserve it.

 Get Involved

  • Rain Ready - helps neighborhoods fight flooding and keep homes and businesses dry. An initiative of the Center for Neighborhood Technology in partnership with the City of Chicago.

Learn More

  • Green Stormwater Infrastructure Strategy - This document, released in April 2014, is the City’s strategy to increase the use of green stormwater infrastructure through an investment of $50 million over 5 years as well as plan for the future through additional analysis concerning long-range stormwater infrastructure strategies and needs.
  • Chicago River Agenda - This agenda was developed to guide the City toward its vision of the Chicago River as our Second Shoreline.
  • Green Design - Learn about design and planning concepts used to reduce stormwater runoff including rain gardens, green roofs, drainage swales, permeable paving, and more.
  • Downspout Disconnection - Find out how to disconnect your downspout to reduce the frequency of basement flooding and combined sewer overflows.
  • Permeable Alleys - See how the City is building green infrastructure by utilizing unique open spaces to hold water that would normally drain directly into the sewer system.
  • Rain Barrels - Discover what a rain barrel is and how you can use them in your backyard.
  • Rain Barrel Construction - Learn how to make your own rain barrel.
  • Water Conservation - Look for ways to conserve water in and around your home and place of work.
  • Water Treatment Education - View this video and overview to explore the journey of water from Lake Michigan to our homes and beyond.


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Mayor Emanuel, joined by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, announced Monday plans to make the Chicago River the city’s next recreational frontier, with four new boathouses serving as anchors of the river’s future development. The EPA will provide nearly $1 million in grant funds to help clean up the river and spur job creation.
“Much like Lake Michigan is Chicago’s front yard, the Chicago River is our backyard, and should be an asset that people across the city enjoy, not avoid," Emanuel said. "Today's actions are the first of many steps that will lead to greater use of the river by Chicagoans and visitors alike.“

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