NOTE: The residential compost distribution program is on hold in 2023.  




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EQ Compost

The MWRD’s Exceptional Quality (EQ) Compost is a sustainable and environmentally beneficial product derived from the water reclamation process. The MWRD partners with the City of Chicago and other organizations by collecting woodchips from routine tree trimming programs and blending this with MWRD biosolids in open windrow machines. Woodchips, grass clippings and leaves are used as a bulking agent. The process raises the temperature of the biosolids and bulking agent mixture which destroys pathogens.

EQ Compost can be blended with topsoil and potting soil for establishing plants or used as a mulch around already established plants. EQ Compost supplies organic matter and improves the structure and porosity of soils which allows plants to more effectively utilize nutrients. Biosolids have been used to improve soil quality at popular destinations like Maggie Daley Park and the 606 Trail and on golf courses and athletic fields at both public parks and schools in the Chicago area for more than 20 years.



EQ Compost Analysis

Parameter Units Range EPA EQ Metal Limit Parameter Units Range EPA EQ Metal Limit
pH   6.5-7.6   Hg mg/kg 0.34-0.63 17
Dry Matter % 43-51   Ni mg/kg 21-43 420
As mg/kg <5 41 Pb mg/kg 40-51 300
Cd mg/kg 1.0-2.0 39 Se mg/kg <5 100
Cu mg/kg 187-401 1,500 Zn mg/kg 326-645 2,800

Is EQ Compost safe to use in vegetable gardens?

  • Our biosolids are properly treated and meet the U.S. EPA’s most stringent standards for use in all garden types.
  • The MWRD’s EQ compost is produced by composting wood chips with biosolids. Federal and state regulations designate EQ biosolids as a nutrient source and soil amendment that can be applied to land without restrictions for growing plants. Biosolids are rich in both organic matter and essential plant nutrients and are used throughout the U.S. as fertilizer and soil amendment for growing ornamentals, trees, turfgrass and crops, including vegetables. 
  • EQ Compost meets Exceptional Quality (EQ) criteria, which is the highest quality standards for biosolids established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Please see EQ Compost Safety Data Sheet,  EQ Biosolids and the Biosolids and COVID-19 Fact Sheet (Español) for more information.

EQ Compost Guidelines

State law prohibits the application of EQ Compost on snow-covered or frozen ground. Additionally, EQ Compost must be applied in a manner that follows recommended application rates when used on agricultural land, and must be applied in a manner that follows best management practices to protect water quality when used on all other land.

Related Information

Biosolids/Compost Windy City Newsletters