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See the book's accompanying photo galleries. 


The annexation of 1889 made Chicago’s South Side the largest of the city’s three sewer districts. With it came such challenges as Hyde Park sewers discharging to Lake Michigan, contamination threats at the Sixty-Eighth Street water intake crib; inadequate sewers and flooding; and the public health disaster of Bubbly Creek, the West Arm of the South Fork. Implementing the mayor’s Pure Water Plan to eliminate sewers discharging to the lake involved intense cooperation. The city constructed huge intercepting sewers and a new pumping station, while the Sanitary District of Chicago contributed funding for some of the city’s work.


Addressing its own priorities, the District enlarged the capacity of the South Branch of the Chicago River, replacing obstructive bridges and widening and deepening the channel to pass enough water to keep Lake Michigan free of sewage and to provide dilution for sewage in the canals and rivers. Extending the Sanitary and Ship Canal and building the hydroelectric powerhouse at Lockport fulfilled the dream of low-cost sustainable power. The creation of what became the massive Stickney plant and sewershed eventually brought the promise of drainage relief to South and West Side residents and eliminated the daily discharge of sewage to the canals and the Des Plaines River. Finally, the Deep Tunnel project is bringing an end to the frequent discharge of sewage tainted stormwater to canals and rivers.


This is the story of draining the South and West Sides of Chicago, and western suburbs; of eliminating the stagnant, encrusted cesspool that was Bubbly Creek; and of clearing the politics of out of the District to deliver taxpayers efficient, professional, and reliable service.


West by Southwest to Stickney is the third in a four-book series. The first is Building the Canal to Save Chicago (2012), winner of a local Abel Wolman Award for Best New Book in Public Works History. The second is Draining Chicago (2016), winner of a National Indie Excellence Award and a Next Generation Indie Book Award for regional nonfiction.


Author Richard Lanyon has had a life-long association with the waterways in and around Chicago. He retired as executive director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in 2010 after a 50-year career in urban water issues. 


West by Southwest to Stickney: Draining the Central Area...and Exorcising Clout

  • Author: Richard Lanyon

    Imprint: Lake Claremont Press: A Chicago Joint

    ISBN/Format/Price: 978-1893121-65-2, paperback, $21.95

    ISBN/Format/Price: 978-1893121-46-1, Kindle ebook, $9.99

    Page Count: 422 pp.

    Pub Date: April 5, 2018

    Format: Trade paperback, 6" x 9" 

    Photos: Click on the photo galleries link under the book cover on this page to see historic images that illustrate the book.

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