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Sewer district may be ordered to clean up channel

A state panel may soon order steps to clean up water in the North Shore Channel that flows through Evanston.

The Chicago Tribune reports today that the Illinois Pollution Control Board has tentatively agreed to designate the channel as suitable for "limited contact recreation" — which means most activities other than swimming.

If the panel decides that more steps need to be taken to protect people on the channel, experts believe that could force the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to disinfect wastewater flowing into the channel from its treatment plant at Howard Street and McCormick Boulevard.

Although such disinfection is required in every other major U.S. city, district officials strongly oppose the requirement, saying it would be too costly.

Pollution levels in the channel at Evanston are several times higher than the level generally considered safe for swimming — although the levels are much lower here than further south on the waterway.

The pollution control board is accepting public comments on the issue online or by mail through Nov. 8.

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