CHICAGO (CBS) — The improving water quality of the Chicago River has experts hopeful that 30,000 Channel catfish released into the river on Tuesday will have a good chance of survival.

WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports the year-old fish were the first of 100,000 Channel catfish to be released at various locations along the river, in a repopulation effort and habitat restoration project.

READ MORE: City To Conduct Annual Count Of Chicago's Homeless, And Expects To See Pandemic Spike In Their Population

Friends of the Chicago River and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources were teaming up on the project, including construction of what are known as “nesting cavities,” essentially boxes catfish use to reproduce.

Their numbers were on sharp decline in the Chicago River thanks to years of pollution and development, but that is now changing.

READ MORE: Teen Charged In 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega's Murder Has Criminal Record For Carjacking And Gun Charges

“In the 1970’s we had roughly two species of fish and today we have over 70,” said Kathleen Meany with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

The project was also expected to help populations of Bass and Bluegills.

The 30,000 catfish released into the river on Tuesday were going into the water near the Merchandise Mart and in Blue Island.

MORE NEWS: City Council Designates Little Village Arch As Landmark

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation was paying for the project with a $300,000 grant.