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

In this edition:

Latest News

Upcoming Events


Visit the MWRD's Virtual Library


Latest News 

Rain Barrel reduced pricing


The MWRD has slashed prices for its rain barrels.

The MWRD Board of Commissioners recently approved subsidies for Cook County residents. Pricing with subsidy:

  • $21.96 per barrel, limit two.
  • $10.98 for people age 65+, also limit two.

The regular price is $43.92 per barrel. There are no delivery charges.

The MWRD's rain barrel program promotes water conservation and green infrastructure to capture rainwater from roofs and save it for later use. The rain barrels provide a variety of benefits, including:

  • Disconnecting downspouts and installing rain barrels can help reduce basement backups and flooding by decreasing the amount of water overwhelming the sewer system during heavy rains.
  • Rain barrels and similar forms of green infrastructure can also improve area water quality by reducing the amount of urban runoff entering area waterways or inundating the MWRD’s seven water reclamation plants.
  • Rain barrels can save on water bills.
  • The water can be used to water lawns, plants and gardens and wash cars, work boots and tools.
  • By refreshing lawns and gardens with the reused water, rain barrel users can help recharge underground aquifers during dry spells.

The recycled MWRD rain barrels include a leaf and mosquito filter screen, spigot, overflow adaptor and overflow hose. The rain barrels come in four colors: black, blue, terra cotta and gray. For installation instructions, watch the MWRD’s video. To learn about other green infrastructure practices to be incorporated at home, read the MWRD’s Green Neighbor Guide. For more information, visit, call (312) 751-6633, or email

Funding available for Cook County municipalities and public agencies for green infrastructure projects; applications due September 6

Green alley in Berwyn


We are accepting applications to fund local green infrastructure projects that mitigate flooding, protect area water quality and enhance public spaces. We seek to partner with local municipalities and public agencies to install green infrastructure throughout our service area in Cook County. For more information, including program guidelines, partnership responsibilities and eligibility requirements, click here. Applications are due by September 6.

Monarch Waystation certified

Monarch Waystation Flyer


We received certification for our first monarch butterfly waystation at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (WRP).

Creating and maintaining a monarch waystation contributes to monarch conservation and helps to assure the continuation of the monarch migration in North America. We have identified multiple locations at the Stickney WRP where recently planted milkweed and nectar plants are flourishing to support a thriving, sunlit, and sheltered location for the monarch butterflies. We are examining the potential for additional waystations at our other facilities.

The waystations are the next step in our commitment to the Illinois Monarch Project, which encourages the public to address conservation and engage public and private landowners to protect the butterflies from becoming extinct. Since our Board of Commissioners passed the resolution to support monarchs in February 2020, more than 2,000 people have taken our Save the Monarch pledge, and we have distributed over 6,000 complimentary milkweed seed packets to Cook County area residents.

Monarch Butterfly Flyer

MWRD seeks applicants for Sustainable Landscaping and Biosolids User awards; Applications due September 15, 2021

We are accepting applications from Cook County individuals, organizations and businesses for our 2021 Sustainable Landscaping and Biosolids Beneficial Reuse Awards until September 15.

The awards recognize the activities and innovations from entities, such as park districts, villages, schools, golf courses and athletic clubs in two separate categories: Sustainable Landscaping and Beneficial Use of Exceptional Quality (EQ) Biosolids and Compost. EQ Biosolids and EQ Compost are a product of the MWRD’s water treatment process that are used as soil amendments and sustainable alternative to other materials.

The beneficial use of EQ biosolids and biosolids compost may be demonstrated through any one or a combination of the following:

  • Continuous commitment to maximize the use of EQ biosolids or compost to improve the cost-effectiveness of landscape management.
  • Promotion such as, but not limited to, referrals and field demonstrations of EQ biosolids or compost.
  • Educational efforts on the environmental/economic benefits of using EQ biosolids or compost.

 Qualifications for the Sustainable Landscaping award may be demonstrated through the innovative use of green infrastructure, capital investment, and how an individual or organization promotes green landscaping to educate the community. The goal is to present an award to an individual or community that integrates sustainable practices in the environment that manages stormwater. For the purpose for the award, green infrastructure includes:

  • Rain Barrels
  • Rain Gardens
  • Native Landscaping
  • Stormwater Trees
  • Porous Pavement
  • Bioswales
  • Green Roofs
  • Greenways
  • Wetlands
  • Green Alleys, Streets, and Parking Lots

Activities completed after January 1, 2016 are eligible for an award, and an individual or organization is eligible once every five years. Submittals should include figures, illustrations, narrative, and photos to help further explain the efforts. The evaluation process may include a site visit.

Awards applications will be accepted electronically. Visit here to apply. by September 15, 2021. Awards will be presented at our virtual ninth annual Sustainability Summit in October. For more information about the biosolids program, awards or Sustainability Summit, contact (312) 751-6633. Event registration information will be available in the coming weeks.

Revitalized water quality sparks osprey sightings at Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, local waterways

Osprey Nest


New residents to the area are sparking a triumphant comeback story. Perhaps it is a sign of a thriving waterway full of aquatic prey, but a resurgence for a species of birds is making its presence known.

Once considered endangered in Illinois, ospreys are returning to Illinois and visiting local waterways, and even to the Stickney WRP. Read more.

Return of the herd

Goats on MWRD property


Following a successful pilot scale operation in 2019 and again in 2020, the MWRD has once again employed the services of goats and sheep to graze on vegetation in hard to reach areas at water reclamation plants and at the Thornton Composite Reservoir to maintain landscaping in an environmentally responsible way.

 The herd eat overgrowth and invasive species to maintain the MWRD’s native prairie landscaping (NPL). This year they returned to the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) and Lemont WRP, and for the first time visited the Hanover Park WRP and O'Brien WRP.

Owner Vegetation Solutions has about 300 goats and sheep in its stable, grazing through cemeteries and parks, clearing out overgrowth at O’Hare International Airport, and other area locations during warmer months. The savanna and kiko goats and katahdin sheep eat virtually everything, including poison ivy and invasive species like buckthorn.

To learn more about the process, visit the MWRD’s YouTube channel.

President Steele at Goat Farm
Commissioner Eira Sepúlveda at Goat Farm
(Top Photo) President Kari K. Steele checked out the herd at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant last year and (Bottom Photo) Commissioner Eira Corral Sepúlveda observed as they ate their way through the Hanover Park Water Reclamation Plant.


Upcoming Events

Board of Commissioners to meet at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 5

BOC Portrait


The MWRD will hold its Board of Commissioners’ Meeting in person at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 5, 2021. Public comment may be made in person at 100 East Erie Street during the Public Comment period. All visitors will be required to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status.

The building will follow state social distancing guidelines, and there will be limited capacity in the Board room.

To view the meeting and public hearing electronically, visit our website at Electronic comments will not be read during the meeting but will be provided to the Board. 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.

Chicago Ducky Derby Family Festival is Thursday, August 5

Ducky Derby


On Thursday, August 5 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., stop by our booth at the Chicago Ducky Derby Family Festival, 401 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Then at 1 p.m. sharp, watch as more

than 35,000 rubber ducks are dropped into the Chicago River for a unique race in support of the Special Olympics program and athletes.

Learn more here

Ducky Derby


Village of Hazel Crest presents "Hazelnut 2021" festival on Saturday, August 7

Hazelnut Village Festival


Stop by our table at the Hazelnut 2021 festival between 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. to meet friendly staff and pick up interesting materials and register for a drawing for free rain barrels and milkweed seeds to help monarch butterflies survive.

This free event takes place at the Public Safety Building, 3000 W. 170th Place, Hazel Crest.

Also on Saturday, August 7 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., we will be participating in Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter's 17th Annual Family Health & Fitness Fair on the IIT Campus, 33rd & State Street, Chicago. Pick up some complimentary trees, milkweed seeds and bags of compost.

Hazelnut Village Health Fair


Back to School Fair & Community Mercado is Saturday, August 14

If you're in the area, stop by a Back to School Fair & Community Mercado on Saturday, August 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kelvyn Park, 4438 W. Wrightwood Ave. Stop by our table to pick up some interesting materials.

Community Mercado Flyer EnglishCommunity Mercado Flyer Spanish


Join us for a live virtual tour at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 17

Virtual Tour images


At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 17, travel back in time to early Chicago to see how we reversed the Chicago River and developed wastewater treatment technology. Go behind the scenes and under water to see how we transform the water you use every day; descend 300 feet into the Deep Tunnel system; and watch our electrofishing crew at work sampling fish on the Chicago River. 

Our virtual tours are free and open to the public. Please register at this link.

No time available on August 17? Click here to watch a one hour pre-recorded tour.

Family Health Day at Brookfield Zoo Swan Pavilion on Friday, August 27

Brookfield Zoo Family Health Day


On Friday, August 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., stop by our booth at this fun event designed to promote healthy living. Stop by our booth to pick up complimentary copies of "A healthy waterway begins with you: A guide to Water Wellness" and other giveaways.

Did you know that many common household products can contribute to water contamination? Think about how you will use or discard a product before you purchase it. Is there an environmentally friendly alternative?

Consider how the things you use every day affect the waterways and the environment.

Choose to do something different – use environmentally friendly products; dispose of medication properly; pick up your pet waste; and discard waste properly.

Can't make it to the festival? Download a copy.

Hegewisch Fest is set for Saturday, August 28

Hegewisch Fest Flyer

On Saturday, August 28, visit our table at Hegewisch Fest, 13301 Baltimore, for a chance to win a free rain barrel and pick up a free oak sapling! We'll also have milkweeds seeds so you can join in the mission to help repopulate the monarch butterfly population.

Our friendly staff will be on hand between 11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. This event is presented by the Hegewisch Business Association.


Pick up free oak saplings to Restore the Canopy

Kids in a Wagon at RTC event


Our staff continue to distribute a variety of red, pin, white and black oak trees at our water reclamation plants every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon. 

The 18" saplings might be small now, but with care and a little watering and patience, they can grow to 80 feet tall. The saplings can stay in the pot for months before replanting in a larger pot or in the ground with moderate watering each week to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Avoid power lines and structures when planting. 

Trees can help mitigate flooding. A medium-sized oak tree can help prevent flooding by absorbing 2,800 gallons of rainfall per year. Trees are vital to our environment for other reasons as well. They can reduce air pollution, improve health and well-being, and keep neighborhoods cooler; create a sense of community; lower energy bills; increase property value; provide protection from wind; buffer noise; provide shade; increase habitat for wildlife; absorb carbon dioxide; and produce oxygen. MWRD Commissioner Cameron Davis explains the value of trees in this short video.

Exceptional Quality Compost still available for the season

EQ Compost Logo

Bring your own bucket and shovel to one of our water reclamation plants to pick up free compost. A steady stream of visitors are pulling up to our water reclamation plants daily to protect the planet by reusing, recycling and replenishing, and now growing healthy gardens.

The MWRD’s EQ (Exceptional Quality) Compost is a sustainable product that is both beneficial to the environment and free to the public. EQ Compost works as a soil amendment to improve soil structure, supply organic matter and allow plants to more effectively utilize nutrients and soil to retain more water.  EQ Compost can be blended with topsoil and potting soil for establishing plants or used as a mulch around already establish plants.  The MWRD partners with the city of Chicago and other suppliers to produce the compost by co-composting biosolids with woodchips from the city’s tree trimming program.   Biosolids are a product of the wastewater treatment process that can help reduce turf maintenance costs by improving soil quality. The MWRD has been producing and providing biosolids to area parks, golf courses and fields for decades. By using this sustainable product here in Cook County where it is made, the MWRD can protect the environment by reducing hauling and landfill costs while improving soil conditions in the process. 

Learn more at here. 

MWRD Employment Center

MWRD Careers Logo


Do you or someone you know have a love for the environment? Are you seeking a new career or looking for your first job? If so, please visit our online employment center at to register, apply and learn more about jobs and the selection process at the MWRD.

Visit the MWRD's virtual library

MWRD video highlights infrastructure investments to address odors at Stickney Water Reclamation Plant

Stickney Aeration Tank


The MWRD released a new video highlighting its commitment to addressing wastewater treatment, odor control measures and infrastructure investments to improve quality of life for its neighbors. Featuring MWRD Commissioner and Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia, the video focuses on the MWRD’s many initiatives to manage odors that arise during the natural biological process to treat wastewater at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, one of the world’s largest wastewater treatment facilities. The video can be view on the MWRD's YouTube Channel in Spanish and English. Read the press release.

"Where Does IT GO?"

Where Does It Go Cover


Our storybook "Where Does IT Go?" tells the story of three young water explorers who travel in a magical ship through MWRD pipes, sewers and tanks that are used to clean dirty water.

Click here to download the book and watch the video.

Find all of our videos on our YouTube channel.

Image of fish

Report Issues brochureReport Issues brochure spanish


Historical Photo of the Month

Historical image


A view to the west at Prairie Avenue in an area between 115th and 116th Streets in Chicago on December 9, 1925, showing street conditions and workers repairing the street where a connection to the Cal Sag Sewer system had been completed.

Addison Creek streambank stabilization project in Northlake is blooming

Addison Creek Reservoir


Native flowers are blooming at our streambank stabilization project on Addison Creek near Jerome Park in Northlake.

We partnered with the City of Northlake to strengthen 750 feet of streambank to alleviate flooding and install native plants that reduce erosion and provide habitat. It's looking beautiful. This project is also featured on our August 2021 calendar, below.

Addison Creek Reservoir

August 2021 Calendar
Contact the Office of Public Affairs at (312) 751-6633 if you would like a hard copy of our annual wall calendar.

August Calendar Page