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Rowers and Industry Users of the Chicago River Convene to Discuss Safer Practices

CHSC Press Release_1003
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On October 20th, members from the Eleanor Street Boathouse and Tug & Barge Operators met at a location hosted by Ozinga at their Chinatown location. In an effort to take corrective action, attendees from the Rowing clubs and Barge Captains discussed last week's near miss with a rowing shell and Barge.

Members from the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee - Vice President Don Campbell, Secretary Tom Blakely, and Sector Representative of Human Powered Craft John McDermott were present in person. Dan Wolf, Sector Representative for Commercial Vessel Operators: Barge and Towing, and Warren Marwedel, Director were on the virtual call.

Middle River's safety and operations team led the discussion with the Coaches and safety representatives from St. Ignatius High School. Overall, 20 participants joined the call either in the room or on the virtual call.

The discussion was very constructive with everyone focusing on how to share the confines of the Chicago River from Eleanor Street Boathouse (Park 571) north to Wolf Point and south to Pulaski. Communication was discussed and one added point was for the CHSC to post on its site the St. Ignatius’ practice schedule with students on the water from 5 a.m. -7 a.m. during the months of August to Thanksgiving. The University of Chicago Rowing practices which run from 6 a.m.- 8 a.m. typically have better daylight conditions.

As a result of the Summit the group has agreed on pursuing mitigating strategies to minimize risk and plans on holding additional meetings in the future. A similar Summit was conducted with kayak operators and commercial passenger vessels in September. More updates will be posted as they become available.

CHSC President Mike McElroy states “This is another example of Chicago commercial and recreational entities coming together through the CHSC to promote waterways safety. We very fortunate to have a Board and Sector directors that takes action when we see a near miss and whenever there an opportunity to increase boater education through partnerships.”

For more information on the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee, visit

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The CHSC is an Illinois non-for-profit and was established, at the request of the US Coast Guard, to provide a broad-based proactive stakeholder’s forum; and to form a partnership between the private sector and government agencies, for identifying, assessing, planning, communicating, and implementing operational and environmental measures that ensure the safe, secure, efficient and balanced management, operation, and development of Chicago area waterways, including the waters of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan.

The CHSC is comprised of a diverse representation of waterways stakeholder organizations from the following CAWS sectors: Commercial Vessel Operators/Passenger, Commercial Vessel Operators/Barge & Towing, Bareboat Charter Operations, Merchant Mariners/Passenger, Barge & Towing, Recreational Boating (Powerboat & Sailing) Organizations, Human-Powered Craft (Paddling & Rowing) Organizations, Civic/Neighborhood/Environmental Advocacy Organizations, Shoreline Facility Operators/Business Owners/Developers

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