For The Love of Water (FLOW) is a summary of news from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
In This Edition:
- Applications for municipalities, public agencies to help manage stormwater due Sept. 9 (date extended)
- Seeking applicants for Biosolids Beneficial Reuse and Sustainable Landscaping awards until September 20; awards to be presented at the 10th Annual Sustainability Summit on Oct. 21.
- S&P Global upgrades MWRD credit rating
- Groundbreaking ceremony held for Robbins stormwater project
- 200+ participate in Friends of the Chicago River's Summer Float Party
- Aspen Trails ribbon-cutting ceremony held
- September 1 - Board of Commissioners to meet, 10:30 a.m.
- September 10 - Hispanic Heritage Month Monarch Festival/El Festival de La Monarca, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
- September 15 - Board of Commissioners to meet, 10:30 a.m
- September 20 - MWRD Virtual Tour, 2 p.m.
- September 27 - Latinx Heritage Month Virtual Business Roundtable, 4:30 p.m.
- October 21 - 10th Annual Sustainability Summit, 9 a.m. registration, 10 a.m. presentations
- October 26 - Celebration of the Deep Tunnel's 50th Birthday and Virtual Tour, 10 a.m.
- Household hazardous waste collection
- Save the Monarch butterfly
- Rain barrels for sale
- MWRD Employment Center
- Doing Business with the MWRD
- Become a Reporter! Report Waterway Blockages, Suspicious Dumping and Odors
Applications for municipalities, public agencies to help manage stormwater due Sept. 9 (date extended)
The application deadline for municipalities and public agencies to apply for green infrastructure funding assistance from the MWRD has been extended to Sept. 9.
Green infrastructure uses natural processes such as infiltration, evaporation, and transpiration in managing stormwater to prevent or reduce the flow of water from entering sewer systems. While conventional “gray” infrastructure enlists pipes and temporary storage to manage stormwater, green infrastructure solutions, like rain gardens and permeable pavement, can store water before it slowly soaks into the underlying soil. Over the last five years, the MWRD has selected more than 80 projects. For more information, including program guidelines, partnership responsibilities and eligibility requirements, visit mwrd.org/GI-app.
The MWRD has completed more than 60 green infrastructure projects throughout Cook County since 2015, with more than 30 in progress. In total, once complete, these projects will retain more than 14.5 million gallons of stormwater volume per rain event.
Read the full press release at this link.
Seeking applicants for Biosolids Beneficial Reuse and Sustainable Landscaping awards until Sept. 20; awards to be presented at the 10th Annual Sustainability Summit on Oct. 21
The MWRD is accepting applications from Cook County individuals and organizations for its 2022 Biosolids Beneficial Reuse and Sustainable Landscaping awards until September 20, 2022. The awards recognize the activities and innovations from entities such as park districts, villages, schools, golf courses, athletic clubs and businesses in two separate categories.
1) Exceptional Quality (EQ) biosolids and biosolids compost are a product of the MWRD’s water treatment process that are used as soil amendments and a sustainable alternative to other materials. The Biosolids Beneficial Reuse award 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.
2) Qualifications for the Sustainable Landscaping award may be demonstrated through the innovative use of green infrastructure, capital investment, and other sustainable practices in the environment that manages stormwater or educational efforts for promoting green landscaping to the community.
Awards will be presented at the 10th Annual Sustainability Summit to be held on Friday, October 21 at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center, 11555 S. Stony Island Ave. Chicago, IL. Register for the Summit at this link and read the full press release here.
S&P Global upgrades MWRD credit rating
S&P Global (S&P) has upgraded the MWRD's credit rating from AA to AA+ with a stable outlook for the agency tasked with managing the region’s wastewater, managing stormwater, and protecting local water resources.
S&P’s upgraded rating reflects the MWRD’s comprehensive operational management policies, extremely strong liquidity, and affordable rates that provide ample rate capacity for its nearly $800 million capital improvement program (CIP). The CIP covers improvements to sewage treatment works, facilities, water quality improvement projects and flood control facilities.
“The stable outlook reflects S&P Global Ratings’ expectation that management will likely preserve the system’s financial profile and maintain its strong financial and operational policies. The depth and diversity of the service area’s economy and customer base provide additional rating stability,” the report stated. Learn more here.
Groundbreaking ceremony held for Robbins stormwater project
After many years of community engagement, partner development and planning, the MWRD, village of Robbins, and other local, state, and federal officials put shovels into the ground to begin the journey that will help mitigate local flooding, restore Midlothian Creek and create opportunities to strengthen and revitalize Robbins, Illinois.
On August 12, the MWRD and Village were joined by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, OAI and other partners to mark the occasion. Read the press release and watch the ceremony at this link.
To address a history of severe flooding, the District will install new drainage and stormwater infrastructure to mitigate local overbank flooding from Midlothian Creek. The project will be completed in two phases and includes the construction of a diversion channel and stormwater pond and restoration of 2,200 linear feet of the creek through streambank stabilization and erosion control. Through the creation of a naturalized wetland detention area, the District will create a park-like setting in central Robbins designed to increase stormwater protection and enhance the community. The project is expected to be completed by late 2024. Read more about this project on our fact sheet.
“This project is just the latest example of the important work that MWRD is doing all around our region to help address flooding in historically underserved communities,” Senator Durbin said. “Beyond providing critical drainage for the area, it also will promote green infrastructure, improve local water quality, and improve the quality of life for residents of Robbins by adding hiking and biking trails and open park space. This project will make Robbins a better place to raise a family and attract further housing and economic development. I’m glad to have played a part in helping ensure MWRD has the funding it needs to begin this project by pushing the Army Corps of Engineers to provide $12 million in federal reimbursed funds to MWRD. And I will continue working with MWRD, the project partners, and the Illinois delegation to ensure that more reimbursed funds come back to MWRD to complete this important project.”
200+ participate in Friends of the Chicago River's Summer Float Party
A magnificent blue heron kept a watchful eye on the more than 200 participants who floated between River Park and Clark Park for the Friends of the Chicago River Summer Float Party on August 22.
MWRD Commissioner Josina Morita, Congressman Mike Quigley, 40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez and 101.9 THE MIX Chicago marked a triumphant celebration of clean water for floaters, fish and heron. Read the full story at this link.
Ribbon Cutting ceremony held at Aspen Trails Park in Mt. Prospect
On August 31, MWRD President Kari K. Steele, MWRD Commissioner Eira L. Corral Sepúlveda, engineers and staff were thrilled to join Village of Mount Prospect Mayor Paul Hoefert, trustees and River Trails Park District Board President Jennifer Rezek, commissioners and Executive Director Bret Fahnstrom to formally unveil the new Aspen Trails Park.
Thanks to this intergovernmental partnership, we successfully delivered several new park features and amenities while working toward a solution to protect the community from flooding. The new field comes with a 17-acre-foot underground storage facility below the surface to accommodate about 5.5 million gallons of stormwater. The detention vault includes 54 massive corrugated metal pipes that extend about 450 feet, about 11 feet below ground. As a result, Aspen Trails Park will now provide flood relief for approximately 100 homes and other structures and reduce overland flooding from local runoff within the Levee 37 interior drainage area. The project complements our earlier work together nearby on Burning Bush Park where an additional 32 structures benefit from a detention basin and connection to storm sewers were constructed.
Board of Commissioners to meet September 1 and 15
Pursuant to Public Act 101-0640, the MWRD will hold its Board of Commissioners Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thurs., September 1 and 15.
Public comments may be made in person at 100 E. Erie Street during the Public Comment period.
To view the meeting, visit our website. Click the "In Progress" link under the Video Column. This link will be active when there is a meeting in session.
Hispanic Heritage Month Monarch Festival/El Festival de La Monarca
Join us from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 10 at Proksa Park, 3001 Wisconsin Ave., Berwyn.
On Saturday, September 10, 2022 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and Berwyn Park District will host El Festival de La Monarca / The Monarch Festival at Proksa Park, 3001 Wisconsin Ave, Berwyn, IL. This event will honor Hispanic Heritage Month by sharing resources on monarch conservation and services for Hispanic communities. It will also encourage and promote sustainable environments for monarchs through native plant and milkweed seed distribution. The migration of monarchs represents survival, transformation, and the power of communities, and it symbolizes the long journeys that immigrants take. Enjoy delicious food from a variety of vendors, learn about community resources and play Monarch Bingo for a chance to win a great prize. Hope to see you there! Click here for an informational video.
Latinx Heritage Month Virtual Business Roundtable set for September 27 at 4:30 p.m.
Learn how and why to do business with the MWRD at this virtual business roundtable.
Register at this link.
Virtual Tour set for Tues., Sept. 20 at 2 p.m.
Were you one of the 300 people who enjoyed our August tour? If not, you have another chance to 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 water; descend 300 feet into the deep tunnel system, and watch our electrofishing crew at work sampling fish on the Chicago River. Register here.
10th Annual Sustainability Summit set for October 21 at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center
The MWRD will host its 10th Annual Sustainability Summit at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center, 11555 S. Stony Island, Chicago on Friday, October 21. Registration starts at 9 a.m and presentations start at 10 a.m.
Hear speakers discuss environmental issues and cheer on winners of the Biosolids Beneficial Reuse and Sustainable Landscaping awards. Register for the program at this link.
Celebrate the Deep Tunnel's 50th Birthday and Virtual Tour on October 26 at 10 a.m
Join us at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26 for a live virtual tour to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP), aka the Deep Tunnel, the vast project designed to protect our rivers and Lake Michigan from sewer overflows and provide an outlet for floodwaters to reduce street and basement backup flooding.
Descend hundreds of feet underground to see tunnels being excavated. Watch as thousands of tons of rock are blasted out during reservoir construction. See billions of gallons of combined sewage captured and pumped to treatment plants to be cleaned. Join our biologists to survey the effects of the project on water quality and fish population.
Special guests will share their first-hand knowledge of planning, building, and operating this one-of-a-kind system. The tour will feature never before seen views of the project, drone video, archival film, and 425-million-year-old fossils. Register at this link.
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).
When thrown out with our garbage, household chemicals and computers, which often contain hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) 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 is outside, 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
Save the Monarch Butterfly
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has added migratory monarch butterflies to their list of Threatened Species. This means Monarch butterflies are now in danger of extinction. In fact, 99.9% of the Western monarch butterfly population has disappeared since 1980.
We all can help by planting milkweed which is the monarch caterpillar's only source of food. And since Fall is the best time to plant milkweed, hurry and visit mwrd.org/save-monarchs to take the pledge to receive free milkweed seeds to help save monarchs.
Rain Barrels for sale
Low cost 55 gallon rain barrels are for sale for Cook County residents. These barrels capture rainwater from your roof for later use.
You can use rain barrel water to wash your car, water your lawn, or clean work boots and tools. Rain barrel water is naturally free of chlorine, lime, and calcium. Since this water is runoff from your roof, do not drink it.
By keeping this water out of the sewer system, the barrels can help prevent sewer overflows and flooding. Purchase rain barrels through the MWRD website. Rain barrel deliveries can take up to 30 days from the day an order is placed. If you have questions regarding an order, please contact the vendor at (844) 4-BARREL.
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!
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.
Become 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.
Historical Photo of the Month
Historical Photo: Construction of a section of the Calumet Intercepting Sewer System at the intersection of 104th Street and Corliss Avenue in Chicago, looking to the west, on May 13, 1918.
September 2022 Calendar
Caption: Kayakers enjoy the North Branch of the Chicago River along the banks of Horner Prk on the North side of Chicago. The native prairie provides erosion control, natural habitat and green infrastructure to protect water quality and enhance recreation. Restoration work by the Chicago park District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helps the MWRD land reduce heat island effect, sequester carbon and mitigate flooding and air pollution.