Shamrock Splash: Tracing the Emerald Legacy of the Chicago River 

How did it start? Why green? If you're curious like many, you may be intrigued to unravel the story behind this peculiar phenomenon.

When you think of St. Patrick’s Day, a green Chicago River may not be the first thing that comes to mind. For those living in Chicago though, it’s certainly quite the tradition! But have you ever wondered about the history behind the tradition? How did it start? Why green? If you're curious like many, you may be intrigued to unravel the story behind this peculiar phenomenon. 

Our journey begins with the city’s early founding in the mid-1800s (1837). Believe it or not, the river used to flow into Lake Michigan! Back then, the Chicago River was managed naturally, flowing into Lake Michigan and serving as a central point to the city’s early transportation and trade network. 

As the city continued to grow, so did its pollution, the river becoming increasingly polluted with sewage and industrial waste, which directly led to pollution in the lake. To address these issues, engineers proposed reversing the flow of the river, away from Lake Michigan, and towards the Mississippi River watershed. This 13-year endeavor effectively reversed the flow of the Chicago River. Known today as the Chicago River’s “reversal”, this engineering feat reshaped the landscape and set the stage for future environmental endeavors. 

🍀 The Original Emerald Transformation:

Fast forward to the 1960s, a group of plumbers were tasked with investigating the Chicago River pollution problem. Using green dye, they were able to trace illegal sewage discharges into the river. The plumbers were able to monitor the river’s color downstream, looking for areas where the green dye appeared, which indicated the presence of sewage discharges, allowing for the detection and remediation of those pollution sources.

Using this method, city officials and environmental authorities could enforce regulations to protect the river's water quality. Not only did the green river catch the pollution sources, but it also the attention of city leaders and residents. Inspired by the green coloring of the river, city officials decided to embrace this new, green hue as part of their annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 

💧 Green Dye’s Water Quality Impact

Today, the river dyeing has turned into a meticulously planned event, drawing in millions of spectators each year. One of the questions spectators may ask (especially those in the water industry) is, does the green hue affect the water quality? What sort of parameters go into place before the green hue comes around?

Before the actual dyeing process, extensive water quality testing is conducted to ensure the river meets stringent safety standards. These parameters typically include testing the levels of dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and bacterial contamination. Imagine a Decision Blue forecasting & monitoring module turned green! (Perhaps we change the name to Decision Green?!)

So what is the dye made of itself? The exact formula is kept under wraps, but today, the dye has switched to a vegetable-based formula, chosen for environmental compatibility, and is non-toxic and biodegradable. Forty pounds of this dye are spread out each year by the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 UA. Members of this force have been carrying on this tradition for generations, since the event’s inception in 1962.

🍀 Embracing Tradition, Ensuring Sustainability:

In conclusion, the annual tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day stands as a testament to the city's rich history, environmental stewardship, and community pride. From its humble beginnings as a practical solution to pollution concerns to its transformation into a beloved annual spectacle, the green Chicago River embodies the resilience and spirit of Chicago. 

As the emerald hue of the Chicago River flows each St. Patrick's Day, it serves as a vibrant symbol of the city's enduring traditions and its ongoing journey towards a cleaner, greener future.

This is some text inside of a div block.