Tradition Must Evolve to Protect our River

The Wells Street bridge spanning the Chicago River.

Dumping dye into the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations harkens back to a bygone era when the river system was considered a part of the sewer system rather than the valuable natural resource it is today.

“Friends does not condone the river being dyed green and supports inventing new ways to celebrate,” said Friends’ executive director, Margaret Frisbie. “This outdated tradition should evolve into something that embraces the vastly improved health of the river system for all the people and wildlife who enjoy and rely on it.

“We believe that dyeing the river perpetuates the notion that it can be treated any way anyone wants, rather than as a protected and valuable natural resource for people and wildlife. More than ever, our land and waterways need protection and our traditions need to evolve to reflect that; imagine fish, beavers or otters swimming through that dyed-green water and you might think a new celebration is the right idea.”

Dyeing the river sets a poor precedent as well because copycat criminals dyed the Upper North Branch green three times over the past few years. If anyone sees dyeing or discoloration of the Upper North Branch please report it immediately to the Hazardous Waste Dump Hotline of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District for investigation – (800) 332-3867 or (800) 332-DUMP.