Skip to main content

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

The MWRD is closely following the developing science regarding potential impacts of  per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other emerging contaminants that end up at our water reclamation plants (WRPs). MWRD staff have been engaging in technical working groups and industry associations to understand the latest science, best practices, and regulatory outlook. 

We are also contributing to several national studies of the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to better understand the risks and impacts of PFAS and other contaminants by providing wastewater and biosolids samples. 

The MWRD has taken the following actions to better understand PFAS in our service area: 

  • Sampled and analyzed PFAS in selected residential segments of MWRD’s collection system, representing non-industrial inputs to our WRPs. 
  • Distributed the “Industrial Waste Division PFAS Initiative Screening Evaluation Survey” to 331 Significant Industrial Users (SIU) in the MWRD’s service area. A total of 104 SIUs responded with completed surveys, for a response rate of 31%. Almost all respondents reported that they do not use, produce or discharge PFAS chemicals. 
  • Provided in-kind support and sampling for a WRF national study investigating management strategies to prevent PFAS from entering water supplies and wastewater. The project aims to gather utility data and fill data gaps to help characterize the PFAS signature associated with different known industrial point sources in the collection system. 

Next steps include: 

  1. PFAS sampling in MWRD intercepting sewers that service industrial areas. 
  2. Initial outreach/inspections of industries most likely to use/discharge PFAS. 
  3. Industry partnerships to investigate alternate processes and chemicals as substitutes for PFAS. 
  4. Direct regulation of industry under provisions of SWCO and CWA (40 CFR 403). USEPA indicated that they would develop effluent limit guidelines for PFAS for nine industrial source categories. Proposed rules for the Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers category are expected in 2023 and for the Metal Finishing and Electroplating category in 2024. 

On October 18, 2021, the USEPA released its PFAS Strategic Roadmap (Roadmap) which outlines regulatory and administrative actions and enforcement approaches that USEPA intends to take using existing authorities to address PFAS throughout the environment. The Roadmap establishes timelines for actions and goals to proactively restrict release of PFAS in the environment, invest in research and innovation to understand the impact of PFAS in the environment and approaches to control, and to broaden and accelerate cleanup of PFAS contamination.  For more information on the USEPA Roadmap as well as other PFAS resources visit their website at: 

The MWRD encourages Industrial Users to stay informed about the latest developments in PFAS regulations that may impact your operations in the near future. Act now to better understand and characterize potential PFAS in your wastestreams and consider the following actions: 

  • Inventory your products and review the safety data sheets for PFAS. Ask your supplier directly if you’re not sure whether or not products contain PFAS. 
  • Ask your suppliers if they have PFAS-free product alternatives and can provide PFAS-free certification. 
  • Properly dispose of any PFAS-containing products that are no longer being used. Rather than dumping them down the drain, contact a waste disposal contractor to assist with destruction of PFAS-containing products. 
  • If your processes use PFAS and discharge to the sewer is necessary, consider collecting a sample of the effluent to determine if pretreatment may be needed. There are treatment systems on the market that can be installed to greatly reduce the PFAS load to MWRD WRPs. 
  • If applicable, develop an in-house training program to educate your employees on the importance of managing PFAS from your industrial activities at the source.   

Reminders and Updates

  • Please use the following address for submitting the Final Compliance (RD-114) and Continued Compliance (RD-115) forms: 

    Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Industrial Waste Division - Pretreatment and Cost Recovery Section 

    USPS delivery: Post Office Box 10689, Chicago, Illinois 60610 

    All other deliveries: 111 East Erie Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611 

  • Hexavalent chromium (Cr+6) is required to be collected and analyzed as a 24-hour composite sample, instead of grab sample.  Please read the “Change in Monitoring Requirements for Discharge Authorization” article found in the Summer 2021 newsletter for more information. This newsletter can be found at 
  • Due to staff changes, account contacts for the PTCR Section have been revised. In this newsletter, please see the table listing the contact information of the PTCR Environmental Specialists.  The revised staff changes are effective September 9, 2022. 
  • Users that are required to report based on mass based limits should receive correspondences from the District regarding the use of a conversion factor of 3.785.  All Discharge Authorizations (DAs) that   are mass based are being amended to reflect the uniform conversion factors. The Special Condition Calculation of Mass Loading in the DA will be amended using the conversion factor of 3.785 liters per gallon.

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.


For more information: