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

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.

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

We are still 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
  • Green Roofs
  • Greenways
  • Wetlands
  • Green Alleys, Streets and Parking Lots
  • Native Landscaping
  • Stormwater Trees
  • Porous Pavement
  • Bioswales

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 and presented at our virtual ninth annual Sustainability Summit on October 12. Visit here to apply for awards. For more information about the biosolids program, awards or event, contact (312) 751-6633. Register for the Sustainability Summit here.


Sustainability Summit Save the DateSustainability Summit application info


MWRD Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos receives two awards from Bharathi Theertha

Commissioner Spyropoulos


MWRD Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos received two honors from Bharathi Theertha, a non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of life in impoverished areas of India and the United States.

For exemplary service rendered to the field of water and sanitation, Commissioner Spyropoulos received the Jala Seva Bharathi award which was presented by Bharathi Theertha President Dr. Prakasam Tata.

Commissioner Spyropoulos and former Commissioner Frank Avila were both honored for their work the past two years in chairing the Water and Waste Conference held virtually in the U.S. and India. The three-day events supported dual time zones and featured 3-D virtual booths, eight educational tracts and 200+ subject matter experts representing more than 20 countries. Read the full story here.

First Summer Float Party highlights improvements in the Chicago Area Waterway System

First Big Float Event


Floating in the Chicago River was not always conceivable, but Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) Commissioner Josina Morita and Friends of the Chicago River hosted “Josina and Friends Summer Float Party” on August 22 to showcase a steady stream of progress for recreation in area waterways.

MWRD commissioners, community leaders and clean water advocates brought their favorite float, noodle, raft or kayak to the Dammrich Rowing Center in Skokie to commemorate healthy waterways and a restored habitat along the North Shore Channel.

Commissioner Morita was joined by MWRD Commissioners Debra Shore and Cam Davis in addition to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State Senator Laura Fine, State Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, Cook County Board of Review Commissioner Michael Cabonargi and representatives from the Village of Skokie, Village of Lincolnwood, and Skokie Park District to float amidst a resurgent population of fish, blue heron, ducks and other wildlife attracted to the improved water quality. Read all about it here.

Southside Blooms’ newest flower farm unveiled

Southside Blooms event


The sunflowers were blooming on the South Side as MWRD President Kari K. Steele, MWRD Commissioner Kimberly Du Buclet, MWRD Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos and project partners joined Southside Blooms on August 26 to unveil a new solar-powered flower farm soaring into the air under the Green Line tracks in the Washington Park neighborhood.

 Earlier this summer, we had delivered 278 tons of EQ Compost to nurture the soil for the site at 5211 S. Prairie, Chicago, which includes 27 flower beds that are 100 feet long and four feet wide. Irrigation is powered through a solar panel installation and rain water harvesting system. In addition to brightening the community, the flower farm provides sustainable employment for at-risk youth.

 The flowers will enhance the community, provide jobs and provide a return on investment. To read the press release, click here.

UIC, MWRD celebrates Arthington Mall green infrastructure project

UIC Campus


Commissioner Kimberly Du Buclet welcomed students back to the University of Illinois at Chicago on August 25 and provided an education on green infrastructure by unveiling a recently completed project.

MWRD investments helped complete 37,000 square feet of permeable pavement and rain gardens alongside a captivating sculpture by Ted Sitting Crow Garner outside Student Center West at Arthington Mall. The amenities run for nearly two entire city blocks with a permeable parking lot, new LED lighting, seating areas and rain gardens packed with native plants and monarchs and other pollinators. We commend UIC for their commitment to sustainability, carbon sequestration, and protecting and improving our water environment, and we encourage other universities, local municipalities and public agencies to consider applying for green infrastructure funding from the MWRD now through September 6. Read the press release here.

The Quarterly Windy City Biosolids/Compost newsletter is now available

Windy City Newsletter

Read the full issue.

Upcoming Events

Board of Commissioners to meet at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 2

BOC Portrait


The MWRD will hold its Board of Commissioners’ Meeting in person at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 2, 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, visit our website. 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. This link will only be active when there is a meeting in session.

Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day


On September 6 and every day we celebrate workers past and present who give their best. Happy Labor Day!

City Age, Council of the Great Lakes Region to host Great Lakes Economic Forum; MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore to serve as panelist

City Age Brochure


On Thursday, Sept. 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST, join City Age and Council of the Great Lakes Region through its Great Lakes Economic Forum to hear a variety of speakers that will discuss the future of the Great Lakes.

At 12:45, MWRD Commissioner Debra Shore will join Navid Mehram, Chief Operating Officer, Great Lakes Water Authority; Michael McKay, Executive Director and Professor, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER), University of Windsor; and Breanne Plier, Sustainability Manager, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District along with David Koch of Black & Veatch for a discussion on water challenges amid a changing climate.

This session will look at climate impacts and how to build water infrastructure that can respond to rapid change and extreme weather events. They will look at the climate’s impact on water utilities and talk about how to build resilient infrastructure that can withstand drought or flooding and improve water quality. Register here and learn more at this link.

Wilbur Wright College to host first TEDx Talk on September 10

Wilbur Wright College Ted Talk info


On Friday, September 10 beginning at 10 a.m., Kevin Fitzpatrick, Assistant Director of Engineering, will be speaking at Wilbur Wright College as part of their first TEDx Talk: "Engineering for Personal and Community Growth."

Visit to access the presentation.

Watch it live here. 

Morton Grove Sustainability Expo is September 11 from 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Morton Grove Expo


Stop by our booth at the Morton Grove Sustainability Expo on Saturday, September 11 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Morton Grove Civic Center, 6140 Dempster Street and pick up milkweed seeds and interesting materials.

Join us for a live virtual tour at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 14

Virtual Tour images


At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, September 14, 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 here.

No time available on September 14? Click here to watch a one hour pre-recorded tour.

September 15 Webinar

Getting the Green Light for Green Infrastructure: Considerations and Resources for Success

Native Grasses


On September 15 at 2 p.m., North Central Region Water Network is hosting a webinar, "Getting the Green Light for Green Infrastructure: Considerations and Resources for Success.”

Speakers include: John Watson, MWRD; Paula Conolly, Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange; and Harry Zhang, The Water Research Foundation. Register here. 

Feed the Community event set for Friday, September 17

Feed the Community Flyer


The 18th Ward Feed the Community event in Chicago Lawn will be held on Friday, Sept. 17 from noon until 3 p.m. between 74th and 75th S. Talman.

Please stop by our table to see all of the interesting materials and resources we have to offer.

Recycling Day set for Saturday, September 18

Logan Square Recycling Day


The Logan Square/Avondale Recycling Day event will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sept. 18. The address is 3212 W. George Street, Chicago.

Bring your unwanted medication, electronics and personal documents for environmentally friendly disposal. There will also be free rapid COVID-19 tests.


Pick up free oak saplings to Restore the Canopy

Restore the Canopy planters


We still have a variety of red, pin, white and black oak trees at our water reclamation plants every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon. While the 18" saplings might be small now, 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 by absorbing 2,800 gallons of rainfall per year. Trees also reduce air pollution, keep neighborhoods cooler; 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

Compost Pick-Up


Bring your own bucket and shovel to one of our water reclamation plants to pick up free EQ (Exceptional Quality) Compost.

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. It can be blended with topsoil and potting soil for established plants or using as a mulch around already established 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, the MWRD can protect the environment by reducing hauling and landfill costs while improving soil conditions in the process. Learn more here.  

MWRD Employment Center

Employment Center flyer


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

"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.

Fish Tank image

Report Issues brochureReport Issues brochure spanish


Historical Photo of the Month

Historical image


The South Branch of the Chicago River and the railyard for the Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad on September 13, 1905, viewed looking north from 18th Street.

September 2021 Calendar

Contact the Office of Public Affairs at (312) 751-6633 to reserve a hard copy of our 2022 wall calendar

September Calendar