"CHICAGO — As a kid, Gary Mechanic didn’t think twice about playing along the banks of the Chicago River, just a half block from his home, despite the sewage and industrial runoff that fouled the waterway when it rained. He remembers when the Fox River farther west was so polluted it was rare to see people canoeing or fishing.
Today, he is paddling rivers that have undergone dramatic yet incomplete transformations as cities throughout Illinois spend hundreds of millions of dollars to stop sewage from pouring into them during heavy rains.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in the rivers around here,” said Mechanic, a partner in a new canoe livery along the Fox River in Aurora, about 40 miles west of Chicago.
Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it’s time to fix the problem once and for all, even as most local governments face difficult budget problems."