WBEZ has a short blog post on the reversal of the Chicago River which happened today (January 2nd) back in 1900. The issue was that sewage was being dumped into the river which flowed into the lake which is where the city got its drinking water. The solution was simple, just reverse the flow of the river and send it somewhere else.
As the canal neared completion, some downriver towns weren’t happy about Chicago sewage flavoring their drinking water. St. Louis prepared a lawsuit to halt the project.
Apparently the lawsuits didn’t work. I can’t even begin to imagine the politics if we were to attempt such a public works project today.