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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

The first new all electric vehicles (EVs) were rolled out by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), backing its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect taxpayers from increasing fuel costs and meet a goal to replace all passenger vehicles with EVs by 2030.

Despite pandemic-related manufacturing delays and worldwide microchip shortages, seven Chevy Bolts arrived at the MWRD in June. The EVs will be used at the MWRD’s Stickney and Calumet Water Reclamation Plants (WRPs) and main office building in downtown Chicago. The MWRD also has two electric transit vans on order and recently installed three charging stations. The EVs are part of a pilot program to test the charging stations and applicability of EVs to the MWRDs operations. As EVs become more widely available in more model types, the MWRD plans to purchase additional EVs whenever current vehicles are replaced.

“We are excited to begin testing these vehicles in our fleet and backing up our mission to promote sustainability in all aspects of our work,” said MWRD President Kari K. Steele. “The electric vehicles represent an important step forward, not only in how we manage our fleet operations in the future, but also in helping the MWRD adopt more economically-efficient transportation solutions that also meet our goals for protecting the environment as laid out in our Strategic Plan.”

The MWRD Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of seven Chevy Bolts in April 2021 at a cost of about $217,000. Due to pandemic-related manufacturing delays, worldwide microchip shortages, and battery recalls for prior year Bolts, delivery was pushed back until 2022.

“We look forward to putting these electric vehicles and charging stations to work and monitoring usage, vehicle performance, and charging station performance over the next several months,” said MWRD Commissioner Chakena D. Perry. “As we enter a new frontier in sustainability, we want to be on the cutting edge but also think judiciously when managing taxpayer dollars.”

The MWRD will use an established 2005 carbon footprint as a baseline to calculate future reductions and has set milestones of a 28 percent reduction by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2050 with additional stretch targets of 50 percent reduction and achieving net zero by 2025 and 2050, respectively, as laid out in the Strategic Plan 2021-2025. These targets are aligned with the federal government’s economy-wide target of 50-52 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a net zero emission economy by 2050.

From investing in EVs to reclaiming water or recovering resources like energy, compost and nutrients, the MWRD strives to reduce its carbon footprint and address global warming and climate change to also improve the region’s water environment in the same process.

This initiative demonstrates the MWRD’s commitment towards decarbonizing transportation. In addition, the MWRD is pilot testing solar recharged battery powered robotic electric lawn mowers and utilizing sustainable methods like goats and sheep for vegetation control instead of fossil fuel-based mechanical methods in the MWRD’s landscaping maintenance. The MWRD has also procured bicycles and tricycles for maintenance and operations staff for the ease of mobility within the WRPs and associated environmental benefits.

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Press Release

Established in 1889, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is an award-winning, special purpose government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management in Cook County, Illinois.


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