By Jeryl L. Olson and Eric E. Boyd

On July 7, 2011, the Illinois Pollution Control Board issued a proposal that will for the first time require wastewater dischargers to certain portions of the Chicago Area Waterway System (“CAWS”) to disinfect their discharges.  The Board proposal, in the rulemaking docketed as In the Matter of: Water Quality Standards and Effluent Limitations for the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) and the Lower Des Plaines River: Proposed Amendments to 35 Ill. Adm. Code 301, 302, 303 and 304 (R08-09B), would establish an effluent limit of 400 fecal coliforms per 100mL from March 1 through November 30 for effluent discharges to Primary Contact Recreation Use water segments of the CAWS.  The Board had previously designated certain portions of the CAWS as Primary Contact Recreation Use.  According to the Board, the proposed rule would apply to the following segments of the CAWS: 1) Lower North Shore Channel from North Side Water Reclamation Plant to confluence with North Branch of the Chicago River; 2) North Branch of the Chicago River from its confluence with North Shore Channel to its confluence with South Branch of the Chicago River and Chicago River; 3) Chicago River; 4) South Branch of the Chicago River; 5) Little Calumet River from its confluence with Calumet River and Grand Calumet River to its confluence with Calumet-Sag Channel; and 6) Calumet-Sag Channel.  The proposal will impact discharges from several wastewater treatment plants operated by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (“MWRDGC”), among other sources.

The proposed rule will soon be published in the Illinois Register.  Once the proposed rule is published in the Illinois Register, the public will have 45 days to file comments with the Board.