Trump Tower

The Trump Tower on the Chicago River.

Friends of the Chicago River and the Sierra Club this week filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against the Trump International Hotel & Tower over its impact on the Chicago River.

The lawsuit stems from permit violations by the Trump Tower, which uses 19.7 million gallons of Chicago River water a day for cooling.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued Aug. 13.

Earlier, on June 15, the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club and Friends of the Chicago River provided notice of their intent to sue the Chicago Trump International Hotel and Tower over continued violation of the Clean Water Act.

About the request to intervene in the state suit, Friends of the Chicago River executive director Margaret Frisbie issued this statement:

“Friends of the Chicago River is eager to join forces with the attorney general to assure the law is enforced and the river is protected. We have worked for decades to improve the health of the river and help transform it into a natural, recreational, and economic asset for the region. We want to protect those investments, the health of the river, and the wildlife that depends upon it.”

Jack Darin, the director of the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, said: "For years, Trump's tower on the Chicago River has been violating the Clean Water Act. It's disappointing that the Rauner administration turned a blind eye to these violations for years, but we are now hopeful that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

"We will work with the attorney general to ensure that justice is served and the Chicago River is fully protected."

Friends of the Chicago River and Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club are represented by attorney Albert Ettinger and the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic.

Federal law mandates that Trump Tower do extensive studies of Chicago River fish populations and the impact of the building’s water intake system.

However, Trump Tower failed to file any study results with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, according to Madigan's office.

Cooling water intake structures can pull large amounts of fish into building cooling systems. Fish and other aquatic life can also get trapped against intake screens.

The suit filed by Madigan also alleges Trump Tower dumps millions of gallons of heated water daily into the Chicago River without a valid permit.

Frisbie said her organization, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, spent nearly $1 million on fish habitat projects in the last five years, including along the Main Stem of the Chicago River. Since 2014, more than 277,000 Illinois native channel catfish and 8,000 Illinois native northern pike were released into the Chicago River system at a cost of $484,000.


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