The pipe in the sewer is actually known as an outfall pipe, and in situations of heavy rains, it leads directly to the Chicago River. This means that when the sewer system has so much water in it, that the WWTF can't treat the water fast enough, and the reservoir's below the streets can't hold all the water, so the sewage has to go somewhere. Since it poses a health risk to humans, the sewage can't go back into homes and businesses, so the river is really the only option.
This got us thinking a bunch of things...
1. This is awful! We shouldn't be sending raw sewage into the Chicago River. That's super harmful to humans who recreate in the river and it's also incredibly dangerous to the wildlife and plant life that call the Chicago River home.
2. Is there a way for us to not have the sewers so full of water when it rains? Are there ways we can reduce our impact on the already strained system during heavy rains/flooding? This is especially the case when our city is covered in impermeable surfaces and runoff is a huge problem (leaving little water from naturally entering the ground).
3. We're thinking that WE CAN MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT! We began brainstorming some ideas about solving this HUGE problem!!! Way to go 5th graders!