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

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Upcoming Events

Black History Month kicks off at MWRD with flag raising 

Black History Month Flag Raising flyer


WHO: MWRD Board of Commissioners, staff and special guests.

WHAT: Fourth Annual Pan-African flag raising ceremony

WHERE: MWRD Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie St., Chicago, IL

WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 10 a.m.

 Beginning with a flag raising ceremony, the MWRD will celebrate Black History Month throughout February to highlight the MWRD’s commitment to diversity, to support the Black community and to honor the achievements of African Americans.

The fourth annual raising of the Pan-African Flag will take place at the MWRD’s Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Build­ing, 100 E. Erie Street on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. At the same time, all seven MWRD water reclama­tion plants will also raise the flag.

The design of the Pan-African flag has special meaning:

  • The red represents the blood of African people shed for liberation.
  • The black represents people of African descent.
  • The green represents the continent of Africa and all of its natural wealth, the land from which African people descended.


Board of Commissioners to meet February 2 and 16 

BOC Portrait


The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 2 and February 16. Public comments may be made in person at 100 E. Erie Street, Chicago, during the Public Comment period.

To view the meetings, visit

Click the "In Progress" link under the Video Column. This link will be active when there is a meeting in session.

Monthly MWRD Virtual Tour to be held
Tuesday, February 14 at 2 p.m. 

Virtual Tours


Celebrate Valentine's Day on Tuesday, February14 with the MWRD by joining us on a virtual tour at 2 p.m.

Go underwater at the world's largest water reclamation facility, explore the Deep Tunnel system, meet the dancing water bear and see electrofishing in action.

Learn about our history and the stories that made us what we are today - a utility for the future.

Register at

MWRD to host Black History Month panel discussion on
"Environmental Justice and Advocating for Equity"

Black History Month Program flyer


On Thursday, February 16, beginning at 4:45 p.m., the MWRD will host a Black History Month celebration at the McGowan Main Office Building boardroom, 100 E. Erie St., Chicago.

MWRD Vice President Kimberly Du Buclet will moderate a panel to discuss environmental justice issues and how community leaders and others advocate for equity. Presenters include: Alden Lowry, Data Projects Editor, WBEZ; Naomi Davis, Founder/CEO, Blacks in Green™; Cheryl Johnson, Executive Director, People for Community Recovery; Greg Kelley, President, SEIU Healthcare; and Pastor Scott Onque’, Policy/Advocacy Director, Faith in Place.

Lolita Thompson, P.E., Principal Civil Engineer, MWRD, Environmental Justice Section, and Karen Freeman-Wilson, President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, will also provide remarks. Register at this link.

Latest News

MWRD Board of Commissioners elects leadership

BOC Leadership


On January 5, our Board of Commissioners elected officers to 2-year terms of leadership at the MWRD to guide us in meeting our mission of protecting public health and our water environment.

President Kari K. Steele (center) and Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia (right) were re-elected by their peers to their respective posts, and Commissioner Kimberly Du Buclet was elected to her first term as Vice President.

President Steele was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2012 and re-elected in 2018 before being chosen by her colleagues in 2019 as the first African American female president elected in the history of the MWRD. She was nominated as president at the Jan. 5 Board of Commissioners’ meeting and unanimously elected as president. A chemist by trade, President Steele worked for more than 11 years for both the MWRD, as a water sampler and lab technician, and with the Chicago Department of Water Management before joining the Board of Commissioners. 

Vice President Du Buclet, now in her second term serving as commissioner since being elected in 2018, is a South Side native and lifelong Chicagoan. Vice President Du Buclet replaces former Vice President Barbara McGowan, who retired after 24 years of service on the Board of Commissioners. Prior to serving as commissioner, Vice President Du Buclet served as the legislative and community affairs director for the Chicago Park District and state representative of the 26th District in the Illinois General Assembly. As commissioner, she strives to increase awareness of environmental justice issues throughout Cook County, and to increase open green space for communities while providing additional green infrastructure opportunities for water conservation.

Having been elected commissioner in 2018, Chairman Garcia was elected as an officer for the second time. He first became chairman of Finance in 2021. An attorney with expertise in local and international governments, healthcare and community affairs, Chairman Garcia works to connect all communities to resources to protect public health, a stable environment and economic opportunity. He was a leader in expanding the MWRD’s long-term vision through the creation of the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan. Commissioner Garcia brings a wealth of experience to the Board of Commissioners as director of community affairs for Cook County Health, the nation’s third largest public health system.

Thank you for your service and dedication to taxpayers throughout Cook County. Read the full press release here.

MWRD adopts new environmental justice policy to promote diversity, equity and inclusion


Budget Book Cover 2023


The MWRD Board of Commissioners has adopted a new environmental justice policy promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in its wide-ranging work to protect the regional water environment. The objective of the policy is to integrate environmental justice considerations into all MWRD programs, policies and activities wherever possible. Commissioners formally adopted the policy on Jan. 19, following a public comment period. The policy can be viewed here or by visiting and clicking on MWRD Real Estate Documents.

The new policy advances the MWRD’s five-year Strategic Plan, which identifies one of its five goals under the category of enterprise resilience, striving to “achieve climate change and environmental justice protections.” This goal ensures that the MWRD’s essential services are reliable, equitable and cost-effective, while also achieving climate change and environmental justice protections, preparing the MWRD for manmade and natural events, and strengthening the MWRD’s operational and financial positions.

The MWRD adopted a framework for environmental justice based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) definition. Environmental justice represents the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and polices,” according to the EPA. The MWRD plans to expand access to MWRD resources, present alternatives to communities impacted by adverse conditions, address instances of pollution and water quality issues impacting minority and/or low-income populations, monitor and track its work, identify barriers and offer additional outreach and technical assistance.

Updated land use leasing criteria reaffirms MWRD’s commitment to access and protection of environment and taxpayers


Aerial view of flood prone property


As one of the largest landowners in Cook County, the MWRD plays a leading role in ensuring that its land use aligns with its many clean water initiatives to protect the environment, mitigate flooding, and respond to neighboring community needs.

In keeping with that commitment, the MWRD Board of Commissioners recently adopted an updated list of criteria that is considered when leasing MWRD real estate. The criteria list, which can be found at, was adopted following a public comment period and study session before the MWRD Board of Commissioners. The criteria list rquires that a multitude of factors are considered when leasing MWRD real estate. These include compliance and consistency with the MWRD’s new environmental justice policy, the MWRD’s Strategic Plan and waterway strategy, and the fiscal impact on the MWRD and local municipality. The MWRD also evaluates the historical use of the land and compatibility with other local land uses, while taking green infrastructure and stormwater management into account. 

TPO Magazine highlights Tiffany Poole in
“This Lab Supervisor Creates Great Chemistry With Effective Leadership and Belief in Mentoring”

MWRD Chemist Tiffany Poole
In the photo: Tiffany Poole (center) provides a learning experience for students.


Supervising Environmental Chemist Tiffany Poole worked her way up the ranks through levels of lab technician and environmental chemist before stepping up to her supervisory position. She has 21 direct reports covering all the positions she previously held. 

Her current role, which she assumed in May 2020, is just the latest step in a career with unlikely beginnings and a growing sphere of influence. Poole earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northeastern Illinois University. After that she worked at a contract research organization on a variety of projects. Now she deals specifically with municipal and industrial entities. Read the full story here.

MWRD Principal Civil Engineer Lolita Thompson featured in "Diversity in Action" magazine 


MWRD Civil Engineer Lolita Thompson



In a newly created role in the MWRD’s Environmental Justice Section, MWRD Principal Ceivil Engineer Lolita Thompson is responsible for working with communities to provide environmental justice to 5.3 million Cook County residents.

She acts to ensure that environmental justice impacts are considered in all MWRD initiatives, including the stormwater management program, which partners with communities to build capital improvement and green infrastructure projects to address flooding. She has worked at the MWRD for nine years, starting as a treatment plant operator.

Read the full story here.

MWRD Shakman Consent Decree terminated by U.S. District Court

Shakman Press Release


A federal judge has terminated a decades-old ruling for the MWRD as a result of improved, fair and transparent hiring practices. On Jan. 20, Honorable Edmond E. Chang of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered an Order terminating the 1972 Consent Decree against the MWRD in the Shakman litigation.

Judge Chang determined that the MWRD had established a durable remedy against political discrimination in employment practices through its Statute, policies and procedures, including its work rules, Ethics Ordinance, and recent Shakman employment plan. The Court also noted the importance of the Inspector General’s continued oversight of political discrimination complaints.

“We take our hiring and employment practices seriously, and we are thrilled to see that our work has been recognized by the Plaintiffs and the Court,” said MWRD President Kari K. Steele. “Although we are so pleased to be finally dismissed from this litigation after many years, we will continue to adhere to the highest ethical standards and remain committed to ensuring that employment actions are fair, equitable and free from political reasons or factors.”

American Public Works Association Suburban Branch honors two
MWRD-supported stormwater management projects

Aspen Trails Mt. Prospect
Aspen Trails Park in Mount Prospect received new amenities, but below is also an underground storage chamber to collect more stormwater, thanks to an innovative project completed through a project between the Village of Mount Prospect, River Trails Park District and the MWRD.


The American Public Works Association (APWA) Suburban Branch has honored the best area public works improvement projects at its annual luncheon, and among them are two stormwater management projects that the MWRD supported through local partnerships.

The Levee 37 Interior Drainage Stormwater Improvement project completed by the Village of Mount Prospect and the 2022 Green Alleys Program completed by the Village of Skokie were both announced as winners at the APWA Suburban Branch’s annual Awards Luncheon on Jan. 25. Both awards were recognized in the APWA’s Environment category. The Mount Prospect award was honored among larger projects between $5 and $25 million, while the Skokie project was in the $5 million and less category. In addition, the APWA Southwest Branch honored Flossmoor’s Berry Lane Stormwater Improvement project. Like the Skokie green alleys, the project was partially funded through the MWRD’s Green Infrastructure Partnership Program. Read more about the awards at this link.

Pilot algae reactor at MWRD Stickney plant to test carbon offset 

Algae processor at Stickney
MWRD Principal Environmental Scientist Kuldip Kumar has been working with algae harvesting to recover nutrients for nearly a decade.


MWRD staff and their research partner, Gross-Wen Technologies (GWT), have developed an experimental pilot algae reactor. The team is growing algae from wastewater to offset carbon emissions, while also recovering nutrients that can better protect downstream water quality.

It is the second time the MWRD and GWT have installed the technology that demonstrates how the MWRD can use algae to naturally uptake phosphorus and nitrogen from wastewater to support its growth through photosynthesis, utilizing the sun as its energy source. Following a successful research trial at its O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) in Skokie, this time around at Stickney, the MWRD is studying if it can successfully reduce its carbon footprint and meet its long-term goals of becoming carbon neutral.

Thanks to $100,000 in new grant funding from Imagine H2O’s Fourth Annual Urban Water Challenge, GWT constructed the new revolving algal biofilm (RAB) system and greenhouse to analyze how the system can more efficiently recover nitrogen and phosphorus without the use of inorganic chemicals or energy-consuming aeration, which is the traditional method of nutrient removal. Read more here.

Algae processor at Stickney
Now a new pilot algae reactor has been developed at the Stickney (WRP).


 Stockholm Junior Water Prize application period opens for high school students


Stockholm Junior Water Prize application
Graphic by the Central States Water Environment Association.


Applications for high school students to enter the Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) competition, a prestigious water-themed contest sponsored by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), are available and entries are due April 15.

The competition is open to public, private, or independent high school students in grades 9-12 that have reached the age of 15 by Aug. 1, 2023 and have conducted water-related science projects. Judging criteria includes ratings for relevance, methodology, subject knowledge, practical skills, creativity and paper/presentation. The competition relies on established science fair competitions. 

There is also an online submittal opportunity to include students in private schools, home schools, or those who have conducted independent projects. It is not necessary for a student to have had a project in a science fair in order to enter. A national judge's panel consists of 15-20 experts in a variety of disciplines/academia. Learn more here and apply here.


Go Easy on the Salt flyer


Go Easy on the Salt flyer

What are Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?

PFAS Chart


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade fluorinated compounds that are designed to be stable and have been in commercial use since the 1940s. The stability of the chemicals makes them difficult to degrade which is why they are often called “forever chemicals.” PFAS are in countless commercial, consumer, and industrial products and are acknowledged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be widely present in the environment.

Like other water utilities across the U.S., the MWRD is addressing how best to manage PFAS in the water environment. The MWRD’s seven water reclamation plants (WRPs) do not produce nor use PFAS but are passive receivers of these chemicals discharged to local sewers.

Wastewater can contain trace amounts of these chemicals from industrial, commercial and household sources. The MWRD’s WRPs were not designed to remove these chemicals during the treatment process. The use of nonstick cookware, cosmetics and sunscreens, washing clothes, and putting out fires with certain foams can all introduce PFAS into the environment.

The MWRD is closely following and proceeding based on the developing science on the potential impacts of PFAS. The key to pollution prevention is addressing the source of PFAS. The MWRD is working to identify and reduce industrial discharges of PFAS, learning how the discharge from these sources can be reduced and encouraging federal and state regulators to focus on stopping these chemicals at the source. The MWRD’s pretreatment program regulates industrial discharges to protect the treatment process and valuable resources the MWRD recovers. Read the complete fact sheet here.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection

Household hazardous waste flyer


Dispose of your household chemicals responsibly and recycle your old computers by dropping them off at the City’s permanent Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility at 1150 N. North Branch Street, Chicago (two blocks east of the Kennedy Expressway at Division Street).

Household chemicals and computers often contain hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) which can contaminate our air, soil and water. Through proper disposal methods or recycling, these hazardous substances are reprocessed and reused in an environmentally-responsible manner.

The Household Chemical and Computer Recycling Facility accepts a range of items, including household cleaners, oil-based paints, solvents, cell phones, compact fluorescent light bulbs, computers and related equipment to name a few. It does not accept business/commercial sector wastes, explosives, fireworks or latex paint. 

During business hours, an attendant will be ready to help unload your vehicle and accept your materials. Materials should not be left outside the facility unattended. Scheduled business hours are:

  • Tuesdays 7 am - Noon
  • Thursdays 2 pm - 7 pm
  • The first Saturday of every month 8 am - 3 pm

See which items will be accepted by visiting this link.

MWRD Employment Center

Are you seeking a new career or looking for your first job?

If so, please visit our online employment center at this link to register, apply and learn more about jobs and the selection process at the MWRD. We also enjoy participating in job fairs throughout the county so stop by our table if you are in attendance! 

Click here to enter our Employment Center

Doing Business with the MWRD

Want to learn how to do business with the MWRD? Visit this link to get started. You'll find many resources, including videos presented by our Director of Procurement and Materials Management and Engineering and Diversity Administrator.

The Department of Procurement and Materials Management procures materials and services required for operations in compliance with the Purchasing Act. The mission of the Diversity Section is to ensure that minority owned (MBE), women owned (WBE), small (SBE), and veteran owned (VBE) business enterprises are given equal opportunities to participate in the performance of the MWRD’s construction program and professional service contracts in excess of $100,000.

Our procurement process is designed to ensure the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars, so we encourage you to register to become a vendor. Sign up to receive a weekly email listing new contract announcements by emailing

Procurement Brochure


Procurement Brochure Spanish

Be a reporter!

There are three ways the public can report waterway blockages, illegal or suspicious dumping to waterways or sewers, or odors. Call 800-332-DUMP (3867) or, in Spanish, 855-323-4801, on our website  and through iOS app.

Report an Issue


Report and Issue Spanish


Historical Photo of the Month

Historical Photo

Historical Photo: Skaters on ice in the bottom of a nearly completed Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal west of Kedzie Avenue on December 30, 1899. The Kedzie Avenue bridge is in the background and behind it is the bridge for the Chicago, Madison, and Northern Railroad.

February 2023 Calendar

Caption: This white-tailed deer was spotted in the Miami Woods and Prairie in the Forest Preserves of Cook County near Morton Grove along the North Branch of the Chicago River. An MWRD Small Streams Maintenance Program crew worked nearby removing a blockage of debris to reduce flooding and keep the river flowing.

While supplies last, please contact for a 2023 wall calendar.

Calendar Feb 23