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April Is Overflow Action Month: Consumers Urged To Conserve Water

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For the next 30 days, Friends of the Chicago River want consumers to take the Overflow Action Pledge.

"We are asking you to help keep the Chicago River Clean. We've organized 30 days of action and awareness and the goal is to protect clean, fresh water which is one of the most valuable things we can do," said Margaret Frisbie, Executive Director Friends of the Chicago River.

The campaign will engage people in water conservation activities to help the Chicago River, ranging from sharing "how-to" tips for water conservation at home to taking the Overflow Action Pledge. WBBM's Lisa Fielding reports.

"Based on the concept of Ozone Action Days, the Overflow Action Days alert people that before, during and after rainstorms, we should reduce the amount of water that goes downs our sewers and pipes," Frisbie said.

Frisbie is encouraging everyone to sign up for these alerts to remind you of the kinds of things you can do to protect the river like shortening your showers and flushing less.

"We all do our part as individuals. We all have a responsibility when it comes to overflow," said Senator Dick Durbin. "If we do our part in this generation the next generation will be talking about how we turned history around."

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Sen. Dick Durbin spoke about the responsibility each person has when it comes to overflow. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

Frisbie said just a third-of-an-inch of rain can cause a combined sewer overflow to the river which is harmful to people and wildlife.

"We know that climate change has changed our rainfall patterns and it rains harder and more isolated ways and that can cause local overflow and so we can help offset it."

Despite the massive improvements to water quality due to the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, wastewater disinfection and the increasing use of green infrastructure, the Chicago River is still subject to combined sewer overflows and storm water runoff.

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Margaret Frisbie, Executive Director Friends of the Chicago River, promotes Overflow Action Month. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

"As federal policy goes in the wrong direction, we have to resist and respond with action at the local level. I'm working to secure federal funding for local projects. Everyone of these efforts, we rely on local partners for local action. Ordinary people can effect our policies in Washington," said Jan Schakowsky, (D) 9th District.

"If 50,000 people saved 20 gallons a day, that would be a million gallons a day. If ten times that amount of people, imagine how much water that is. Every drop counts. Take part in Overflow Action Days," Frisbie said.

"On a local level, hashtag overflow action days. Remember just flush with number two," laughed Mariyana Spyropoulos, Board President, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

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Skimmer boat cleans the Chicago River. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)
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