Recycle the salt used by cities to treat the streets and walkways in the city during the winter...
Explanation in brief:
Install a desalination plant on the lakefront to extract salt and other “related” chemicals as part of the water treatment process which can be reused by the city and suburbs. The salt can be resold to communities to recover the expenses and incentives can be provided as gov’t rebates to folks who elect to use the recycled salts instead of importing salts.
I would guess that the city may have some capacity to do this today, but it does not appear to be fully exploited. The innovation would take us from minimal capability to full realization of what is possible. This would require a variety of disciplines and might be a fascinating project for engineering students at the university.
Green initiative for the city
Reduced dependence on imports (salt in particular)
Improved overall water quality for lakefront
Reduced overall costs for streets & sanitation
Might improve the city’s chances for the 2016 Olympics