For The Love of Water (FLOW) is a summary of news from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. 

In this edition:

MWRD Board of Commissioners calls for an end to discrimination, racism and violence

The MWRD Board of Commissioners released the following statement:

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Board of Commissioners and MWRD staff stand in solidarity condemning all hatred, discrimination and violence in the world. In wake of the tragic attacks around the world and recent attacks against Asians, we share that hate and violence have no place in our society.

We stand in support of communities across Cook County, Illinois, our colleague Commissioner Josina Morita and the Asian American Caucus she chairs; they are making a difference. The Caucus works together to connect and support Illinois’ diverse Asian American communities to develop strategies and identify opportunities for growth and advancement.

We could not be more honored to stand with Commissioner Morita and thank her for her service toward improving the lives of all Asian Americans and her work here protecting our water environment. We urge everyone to read the statement from the Asian American Caucus at and learn more about the important work of the Asian American Caucus.

Report Hate Crimes

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul urges Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to report hate crimes to local law enforcement for criminal prosecution. The Attorney General also encourages people to report discrimination or hate-motivated incidents to his office by submitting this form, emailing or by calling his Civil Rights Hotline at (877) 581-3692.

Board of Commissioners to meet Thursday, April 1 at 10:30 a.m.

Due to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Disaster Declaration and pursuant to Public Act 101-0640, the MWRD will hold its Board of Commissioners’ Regular Board Meeting by video conference at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday April 1. The MWRD Board Room and building will remain closed to protect the health and safety of the public and staff; only essential personnel will be allowed entry.

To view the meeting and public hearing and to comment, visit our website. Public comments may be made during the public comment period by calling (312) 751-3299. Comments may also be made by registering under the eComment link during the live meeting. Electronic comments will not be read during the meeting but will be provided to the Board electronically. If you would like to view the live stream of the meeting, click the "In Progress" link under the Video Column. The "In Progress" link will only be active when there is a meeting in session.

Pipefitters are the backbone of our processes



Sometimes it takes a little dirty work to transform wastewater into water—and a little bravery, determination, ingenuity and hard work. Those are the qualities our pipefitters Vernon Hart and Jason Kittl displayed when they had to enter a return solids pump line at our Calumet Water Reclamation Plant to perform a little emergency surgery.

A pipe 16-inches in diameter was dislodged so the pipefitters grabbed their personal protective equipment, gas meters and tools and entered the nearly 100-year-old web of piping. They hammered at the pipe before they could saw it down and safely remove it in pieces. On the left: Vernon showed how he was able to wedge into the pipe at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant. Fortunately, MWRD machinists have been hard at work rebuilding a return pump impeller that will be soon inserted into the system to continue these essential operations that help the biological stages of wastewater treatment. Below: Assistant Master Mechanic Laura Reilly demonstrates the heavy lifting that goes into rebuilding the giant impeller that drives the pump.


Watch the MWRD's Women's History Month celebration

Visit our YouTube channel to watch Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Commissioners, Executive Director Brian Perkovich and honored staff members celebrate Women's History Month. We are proud to honor these employees:

Junli Bai, Principal Civil Engineer
Lucy Wilson Cunningham, Laborer Foreman
Kathy Lai, Managing Engineer
Lolita Thompson, Senior Civil Engineer
Malisa Torres, Diversity Officer and
Jennifer Wasik, Assistant Director, Monitoring and Research


Learn more about our special guest and honorees.

Women's History Month FlyerWomen's History Month Flyer

Our next virtual tour is set for Wednesday, April 14 at 10 a.m.

Tour Image


On Wednesday, April 14 at 10 a.m., travel back in time to early Chicago to witness how we accomplished the monumental task of reversing the flow of the Chicago River and go inside the tunnels and reservoirs to learn more about what happens after the flush.

In the late 1800s there was a sense of urgency creating a sanitary district due to a booming population, the fear of waterborne illness, the quality of the drinking water supply in Lake Michigan and a contaminated river. In 1889, the Sanitary District (now MWRD) was established and its first assignment was clear: reverse the flow of the Chicago River. And we delivered.

No time for a live tour? Watch a recorded tour at your own pace by following this link.

Click to register for the April 14 tour

Educational Materials available for students (K-12) and adults

Virtual Programs brochure


Find learning materials for students (K-12) and adults.

View these educational videos via our MWRD YouTube channel:

Terrence J. O'Brien Water Reclamation Plant video tour
MWRD Sustainability Summit 2020
How To Install A Rain Barrel

2021 Calendars available

2021 Calendar


We still have a few copies of our complimentary wall calendars available.

Email to request a copy, and enter "MWRD Calendar" in the subject line.

Photos are taken by staff, and historical facts related to the MWRD's history are included.

Partner Highlight: Palmer Elementary School, Chicago

Palmer Panther logo

Thank you to the Palmer Elementary School Eighth Grade Science and Social Studies classes for participating in a
"Where Does IT Go?" 
virtual presentation! These Water Science Explorers are ready to protect the water environment.

We are also grateful for the feedback from teacher K. Ruff:

"Thank you again for coming to our class at Palmer! Your (virtual) presentation fit in perfectly with our work in science."

Where Does It Go Cover


The MWRD has published its first children’s book, “Where Does IT Go?”. This colorful storybook educates students about the wastewater treatment process and encourages them to learn about careers in water. Readers take a magical journey that begins in their toilet, flows into the sewer system, then travels to and through an MWRD water reclamation plant before exiting into area waterways for all to enjoy.

If you are an educator or Scout leader in Cook County and are interested in a “Where Does IT Go?” virtual presentation for your students (grades four and up) and/or a limited supply of printed books for your classrooms, please email

Historical Photo of the Month

Historical image


In this photo, a steam scraper removes topsoil in an area between Montrose Avenue and Lawrence Avenue in Chicago on May 21, 1904.

The MWRD, formerly the Sanitary District of Chicago, straightened and enlarged a portion of the North Branch of the Chicago River at the beginning of the 20th century in order to improve drainage and reduce flooding. This original section of the river was a relatively small, curved and meandering stream between Lawrence Avenue and Belmont Avenue. By the end of the project some portions of the river were widened and deepened; and other areas were filled in and replaced by a completely new channel. Learn more about the Chicago Area Waterway System on our website. We post a historical photo daily on our social media channels so follow us if you'd like to see and learn more about the daily rigors our predecessors captured through the use of glass plate negatives.

Help us help monarch butterflies thrive!

Monarch Butterfly


The MWRD has partnered with the Illinois Monarch Project (IMP) to help save monarch butterflies. The IMP encourages the public to protect the butterflies from becoming extinct. New studies suggest that monarch butterfly populations have rapidly declined due to habitat loss and climate change, resulting from development, poor land management practices, and heavy reliance on pesticides and herbicides. While the butterflies have declined, so has milkweed, which is the sole source of food for monarch caterpillars. 

Take our online pledge to help save the monarchs. While supplies last, we will send you a complimentary packet of milkweed seeds (available to Cook County residents only) when you complete and submit your pledge. Your support is greatly needed and appreciated.

Green Neighbor Guide is available

Green Neighbor Guide brochure


Consider whether installing a form of green infrastructure would be beneficial to your goals. Rain barrels, bioswales, rain gardens, and dry wells are effective forms of green infrastructure; they help to capture excessive rainwater on your property.

You may also consider installing permeable pavement driveways and paths, as well as disconnecting downspouts. Download the "Green Neighbor Guide” today to learn more about these tools, including how to install them.

"A Guide to Water Wellness" is available

Healthy Waterway brochure

Help protect the waterways. Read “A healthy waterway begins with you: A Guide to Water Wellness” to learn how you, your family and friends can help keep contaminants out of the waterways. Download a copy today.

April is Overflow Action Awareness Month

Overflow Action Guide


Spring and wet weather are headed our way. Look for the yellow Overflow Action Day alert graphic and additional information on our social media channels and website in April. The Overflow Action and Prevention initiative is a partnership with Friends of the Chicago River; visit their website to sign up for Overflow Action Alerts. We encourage everyone to conserve as much water as possible prior to the first drop of precipitation. Before and during rain events, MWRD staff work around the clock to protect the water environment, mitigate flooding, manage waterway elevations and maintain operations at our seven water reclamation plants and Deep Tunnel and reservoir system (TARP). Learn more about TARP.

Report waterway blockages, suspicious dumping or odors to our hotline

Report Issues brochureReport Issues brochure spanish