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Current Launches New Chicago River Water Quality Monitoring Project

Have you ever wished for an easy way to better understand water quality of the Chicago River before a day out on the water? Current’s new project aims to do just that by piloting innovative real-time sensors to inform the public about water quality in the Chicago River.

Current’s riverway monitoring project is one of eleven recently funded by the Chicago Community Trust as part of the Our Great Rivers vision, all aspiring to help residents connect with the river as a vital place for recreation and commerce.

Current and its partners will monitor indicators of microbial pollution in river water using cutting edge sensors. Real-time sensor data will be conveyed to the public, enabling Chicagoans to check their smart phones to easily learn about water quality. As a water technology innovation organization dedicated to improving water resources, this effort leverages Current’s capabilities to demonstrate and help commercialize innovative solutions.

Current is pleased to be collaborating with capable partners who are integral to the project’s success. Technical partners include machineQ- a Comcast Company, Esri, Green Diamond Solutions, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago who are providing support from data transmission, analysis and visualization to water quality sensor installation and maintenance. Our community partners include Friends of the Chicago River, North River Commission, and South Loop Chamber of Commerce who will lead public engagement efforts that include convening community members and citizen scientists interested in protecting and enhancing the river as a natural resource suitable for recreation and commerce.

Access to clear and understandable real-time water quality data will help make the river more welcoming and enable the public to better understand the state of local waterways. By spurring greater engagement with the river system, this project aims to drive sustainable development as local businesses – from recreational providers to restaurants – leverage increased public utilization of the waterway to establish the river as the city’s “second shoreline.” If successful, this pilot project could be replicated to help monitor other urban waterways.

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