Chicago, IL

Introducing 'Chicagwa:' Cans of fresh Lake Michigan tap water celebrate Chicago, while stirring up controversy

Jennifer Geer

Mayor Lori Lightfoot launches a campaign to promote Chicago's high-quality drinking water. However, the city is still dealing with dangerous lead pipes, and what's the taxpayer's cost of the new campaign?

(CHICAGO) You can get Lake Michigan water from your tap, or you can get it out of a fancy can. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has launched a campaign to brand city drinking water in commemorative cans in time for "National Drinking Water Week."

It's the same water you would get from your tap in Chicago or the suburbs. Water straight from Lake Michigan and processed through water treatment plants. Only, this water is packaged in colorful cans. The cans have been designed by local artists and include designs such as boats, hot dogs, and Chicago's Water Tower Place.

Is it free?

Yes, the canned water is free and will be given away throughout the summer at various city events and certain locations, including Wieners Circle, Manny's Cafeteria and Delicatessen, and Real Good Stuff Co.

Get them now, as the commemorative cans are only available for a limited time. You can follow the Chicagwa Instagram account to find out where they'll be popping up this summer.

Why canned water?

According to the Chicagowa website, "Chicago’s cozied up next to the greatest of all Great Lakes (in our opinion), a nearly endless source of water that our city turns into clean, delicious drinking water. And there’s enough to fill future-y Chicagoan gullets for a really, really, really long time."

That's a lot of water

According to the Chicago Department of Water Management, 750 million gallons of drinking water are sent daily to Chicago and 120 suburbs.

Highlighting Chicago tap water brings to mind the lead pipe problem

Chicagoans are lucky to have Lake Michigan, a freshwater source of drinking water, at their doorstep. Especially considering areas in the Western U.S. are facing severe water shortages.

But, Chicago drinking water is not without its problems.

In 2018, the Chicago Tribune uncovered lead in the tap water of 70% of homes tested over two years. And 3 out of 10 homes had levels higher than allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

City officials are currently working on removing lead service lines, and federal government funding is coming to replace even more pipes.

The cans are free, but will taxpayers pay a price?

According to a report from CBS Chicago, the Mayor's office said the total cost of Chicagwa canned water for the city will be $125,000. But CBS said they did not get a breakdown of the cost for taxpayers.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL
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