For The Love of Water (FLOW) is a summary of news from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
In This Edition:
- June 1 - Pride Month flag raising ceremony to be held, 10 a.m.
- June 1 - MWRD Board of Commissioners meeting, 10:30 a.m.
- June 13 - Monthly Virtual Tour of MWRD plants, 2 p.m.
- June 15 - MWRD Board of Commissioners meeting, 10:30 a.m.
- June 15 - Juneteenth flag raising ceremony, 10:00 a.m.
- June 15 - Juneteenth celebration, 4:45 p.m.
- Board of Commissioners adopt Climate Action Plan
- MWRD leadership visits Illinois General Assembly
- Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month event features Illinois Secretary of Human Services Grace Hou
- MWRD partnership with the village of Niles yields a resilient Golf Mill stormwater park
- Infrastructure Week Open Houses attract hundreds
- First Virtual Vendor Outreach Fair resounding success
- MWRD Acting Human Resources Director Ted Kosowski earns national award
- Free oak saplings available
- Read our "Green Neighbor Guide"
- MWRD Rain Barrel program
- What are Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
- Household hazardous waste collection
- MWRD Employment Center
- Doing Business with the MWRD
- Report Waterway Blockages, Suspicious Dumping and Odors
- Facility tours are back
Pride Month Flag raising ceremony to be held June 1
At 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 1, the MWRD will kick off Pride Month with a flag raising ceremony at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie St., Chicago, and at all seven water reclamation plants to affirm its commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and opportunity for all in protecting the region’s water environment.
Board of Commissioners to meet June 1 and 18
The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 1 and June 18. Public comments may be made in person at 100 E. Erie Street, Chicago, during the Public Comment period.
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, June 13 at 2 p.m.
Join the MWRD on a virtual tour at 2 p.m. pm Tuesday, June 13.
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 https://mwrd.org/facility-tours.
Juneteenth Flag Raising and Celebration
The MWRD will celebrate Juneteenth with a flag raising ceremony on Thursday, June 15 at 10 a.m. and evening program at 4:45 p.m. at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Street, Chicago.
Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Deriving its name from combining "June" and "nineteenth," it is celebrated on the anniversary of the order issued by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas.
Originating in Galveston, Texas, Juneteenth has since been observed annually throughout the United States. In 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, creating a federal holiday.
Reservations for the evening program can be made at this link.
Board of Commissioners adopt Climate Action Plan
The MWRD Board of Commissioners formally adopted a climate action plan (CAP) that has been crafted over the last four years. Part of the assessment included the commissioning of an interdepartmental task force, a public comment period, and staff and commissioner interaction, review and feedback.
Following the adoption of the MWRD’s Strategic Plan 2021-2025 the CAP is another comprehensive document presenting an even longer-term vision to help steer the MWRD well into the 21st century. The CAP is also a living document intended for revision within a year of Strategic Plan updates to measure the status of MWRD goals and work in meeting ambitious benchmarks.
Setting 2005 as a baseline in greenhouse gas emission reporting, the MWRD has set milestones of a 28 percent reduction by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050 compared to 2005 levels, with additional stretch targets of 50 percent reduction by 2025 and achieving net-zero by 2050. The CAP outlines how the MWRD will meet these targets. To read the CAP, visit www.mwrd.org/climateaction.
MWRD leadership visits Illinois General Assembly
Our Commissioners completed a successful legislative visit at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, IL.
Thank you to our Illinois General Assembly for their unwavering support and collaboration to protect our water environment.
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Panel features Illinois Secretary of Human Services Grace Hou
The MWRD merged our work of protecting public health with health and human services for a discussion and tours with Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou in recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The program was held at our Mainstream Pumping Station in Hodgkins, IL on May 24. Hosted by MWRD President Kari K. Steele, Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia, Commissioner Eira L. Corral Sepúlveda and Commissioner Patricia Theresa Flynn, tours were held at the pumping station and McCook Reservoir. Part of our Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP), these critical pieces of infrastructure are working to protect our waterways from pollution and our communities in combined sewer areas from flooding. Watch the program in its entirety at this link.
MWRD partnership with the village of Niles yields a resilient Golf Mill stormwater park
MWRD Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos and Commissioner Patricia Theresa Flynn joined Niles Mayor George D. Alpogianis and the Village of Niles Board of Trustees last month to celebrate the completion of the Golf Mill Park stormwater project at 9101 Greenwood Ave. in Niles. The MWRD committed $2 million to the $11 million project, which will provide flood relief for nearly 100 structures in a 200-acre area lot on Niles’ northwest side. The park will store 4.5 million gallons of stormwater, while also expanding and improving Golf Mill Park. Read more at this link.
Infrastructure Week Open House, tours attract hundreds
Almost 1,000 residents watched what happens at one of our water reclamation plants during Infrastructure Week open houses held on May 13 and May 20.
Whether you stopped by Calumet (Chicago,) O'Brien (Skokie), Egan (Schaumburg), Kirie (Des Plaines), Hanover Park, O'Brien (Skokie), or the Stickney (Cicero) plants, we appreciate that you took time out of your day to learn what happens after the flush.
If you missed the open house, you can still tour our facilities virtually or in person.
Learn more and register at https://mwrd.org/facility-tours.
Inaugural Virtual Vendor Outreach Fair resounding success
The MWRD's inaugural Virtual Vendor Outreach fair was held on May 11 to connect MWRD staff with vendors and potential vendors. The panel discussions held by MWRD staff and industry leading Prime Contractors and Consultants were recorded and can be found at https://vimeo.com/showcase/mwrd.
MWRD Acting Human Resources Director Ted Kosowski earns national award
Thaddeus (Ted) J. Kosowski, Acting Director of Human Resources, received the 2023 Award of Excellence from the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association during its conference in Louisville, Kentucky in April.
Ted has been with the MWRD for over 25 years and has progressed through various human resources responsibilities, most recently serving as the Assistant Director of Human Resources since 2010. He has over 30 years of experience managing various human resources and safety functions in the service, manufacturing, and transportation industries including most recently directing the labor and employee relations function for the 1800 employees working for the District. He has negotiated over 40 collective bargaining agreements with seven different collective bargaining agreements which include 67 job classifications.
The NPELRA presents the Award of Excellence to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to management in the field of public sector labor relations. The award represents National PELRA's highest acknowledgment of the recipient's dedication and achievement in the development of positive labor-management relations. It signifies professional efforts, which have demonstrated creative and innovative leadership over an extended period of time.
National PELRA is the premier non-profit organization for public sector Labor Relations and Human Resources professionals. It is comprised of 22 affiliated State PELRAs with over 2,400 members from around the country.
Ted was nominated by his colleagues Roxanne Bonner, HR Manager; Beverly Sanders, retired HR Director; Robert Byrne, HR Manager; and Jamie Fisher, HR Manager.
Free oak saplings available
Complimentary red, pin, bur, black or swamp white oak saplings are available at our water reclamation plants on Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-noon.
The saplings come in one gallon pots or can be requested as bare roots in bags of 100. These must be planted within a matter of days for premium viability.
If more than 50 potted saplings are desired, delivery is available, or park districts, residents and municipalities can schedule pick ups. Learn more at https://mwrd.org/treesrestore-canopy.
Read our "Green Neighbor Guide"
Water is one of the most valuable resources on our planet. We require clean and fresh water for drinking, cleaning, recreation and other activities. However, too much of it can become a nuisance when it causes flooding in waterways and urban areas, impacting our travel when roads are flooded and even damaging our homes and businesses.
While there are myriad ways to be a Green Neighbor—some actions can be as simple as not over-fertilizing your lawn and garden, washing and maintaining your vehicles properly, or planting a native tree—our "Green Neighbor Guide" focuses on stormwater management projects that you can build or install on your property.
The guide provides detailed instructions for disconnecting downspouts; installing rain barrels or cisterns to capture stormwater for reuse; installing dry wells and rain gardens to allow stormwater to filter into the ground; and replacing asphalt and concrete surfaces with permeable paving to reduce stormwater runoff.
MWRD Rain Barrel program
The MWRD offers low cost rain barrels. These 55 gallons barrels are doubly green as they are repurposed and come in four colors.
Order yours online at https://mwrd.org/rain-barrels.
What are Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?
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. Visit the webpage for more information here.
Permanent Household Hazardous Waste Collection
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
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! Staff in a variety of job classifications were interviewed to discuss their background and work that they do. The videos can be found on the MWRD YouTube page at: https://www.youtube.com/@mwrdgc/videos
Doing Business with the MWRD
Want to learn how to do business with the MWRD? Visit this link to get started.
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 email@example.com.
Report waterway blockages, suspicious dumping to waterways or sewers and odors
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
- Visit our website https://gispub.mwrd.org/incidentreporting/
- Use our iOS app https://apps.apple.com/us/app/mwrd-citizen-incident-reporting/id914049460?ls=1.
Tour a MWRD facility
Tours of our facilities are back in full force, and we look forward to seeing you!
Schedule a group tour and visit us virtually. Learn more at https://mwrd.org/facility-tours.
Historical Photo of the Month
Historical Photo: A view to the east showing a shipyard on the west side of the North Branch of the Chicago River, just north of Belmont Avenue, on February 11, 1922.
June 2023 Calendar
Caption: An eastern cottontail rabbit near the prairie at the Chicago Park District's Rutherford Sayre Park, one of over 80 community spaces benefitting from the MWRD's Green Infrastructure Program. Four acres of turf grass were converted to prairies to provide natural habitat and deep-rooted plants that absorb water.
While supplies last, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a 2023 wall calendar.