In 2011, the Chicago River was listed as one of America’s most endangered rivers. With water pollution being addressed through various interventions over the years, the water quality has been gradually improving. However, most of the river banks have hard edges, providing virtually no opportunity for realising green riverbanks and riparian edge ecosystems. Also aquatic wildlife and vegetation was largely absent. Community group Urban Rivers has taken it as a mission to bring the river back to life, by creating floating habitats and teaching the community about their urban waterways.
A 1500 sqft floating garden was installed in 2017, with a mile-long floating park being envisioned for 2020.
A kayak route passes the floating gardens and they are a popular resting and observation spot.
The islands are planted with more than 1500 specimens of 40 native species in collaboration with the Chicago Botanic Gardens
An important goal of this project is to experiment with aquaponic food-growing on the river, where the nutrients in the water feed the plants
The vegetables and herbs harvested from the islands will be extensively tested for traces of pollutants and toxins