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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Upcoming Events

MWRD Board of Commissioners December meeting dates


Board of Commissioners Portrait


The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 7 and 21.

Public comments may be made at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie Street, Chicago, during the Public Comment period. 

View meetings. Click the "In Progress" link under the Video Column which will be active when there is a meeting in session. Closed captioning is available.

Additional meeting dates and times can be found on our website.

MWRD's monthly Virtual Tour set for December 12 at 2 p.m. 



Join the MWRD on a virtual tour at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 12. 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 make us a utility for the future. Register.

Seminar set for Friday, December 15: Update on the MWRD's Climate Action Plan and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Dr. Kuldip Kumar, MWRD Principal Environmental Scientist,


On Friday, Dec. 15 at 10:30 a.m., Dr. Kuldip Kumar, MWRD Principal Environmental Scientist, will present an update on the MWRD's Climate Action Plan and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

The seminar is eligible for Professional Development Credits/CEUs.

This event will be held at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant and virtually. 

In person: Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, Lue-Hing R&D Complex, 6001 West Pershing Rd., Cicero, IL. Register at least 24 hours in advance by emailing Dr. Heng Zhang at or call (708) 588-4264 or (708) 588-4059.

Virtual: Access the seminar on Dec. 13 for the link.

Latest News

11th Sustainability Summit hosts discussions on protecting water resources, honors excellence


The Ford Calumet Environmental Center in Big Marsh Park played host to the MWRD’s 11th Annual Sustainability Summit, inspiring conversations about how to tackle the many challenging issues facing the MWRD and partners in their mission to protect the environment. Topics covered stormwater management, carbon reduction, climate resilience, wildlife conservation and the protection of invaluable water resources. The event featured an impressive lineup of speakers and honored outstanding individuals, municipalities, firms, partners and organizations for their contributions to sustainability. Watch a recording of the event.


Speakers included: MWRD Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn; Commissioner Daniel Pogorzelski; Commissioner Eira L. Corral Sepúlveda; Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos; MWRD scientists and engineers, including Joe Kratzer, Dr. Kuldip Kumar, Dr. Theresa Johnston, and Tom Minarik; University of Illinois at Chicago Professor Dr. Şevin Yildiz; and Judy Pollock from the Chicago Bird Alliance.

We also congratulated our award winners, including City of Northlake Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin for his tireless advocacy for green infrastructure solutions; Hey and Associates, Inc. for their integration of sustainable practices in the design of stormwater management; Omni Ecosystems for sustainable landscaping at the new Salt District; and the City of Calumet City in recognition of a community initiative to reduce runoff through the use of permeable materials in green alley collaboration.

MWRD launches new website



Visitors to the MWRD's website will now find a friendly design, improved search engine, interactive tools, and video content.

The website,, reflects the MWRD's commitment to transparency and accessibility and provides an enhanced user experience for residents, businesses, industry professionals, vendors, educators and local municipal and governmental partners.

The website offers insight into the MWRD’s work to clean wastewater and reduce flooding and places an emphasis on community engagement. Residents are provided with tools and information they can use to take action to help reduce flooding and protect water quality. Partnership opportunities on an array of stormwater management and resource recovery programs are frequently posted and business opportunities are updated weekly. Future employees can apply for jobs, and a multitude of educational resources are available for students and other learners. Read more information.

Dr. Catherine O’Connor, MWRD Director of Engineering, receives U.S. Minority Contractors Association Excellence in Engineering Award

Dr. Catherine O'Connor director of the MWRD’s Engineering Department


A dynamic and innovative engineering leader at the MWRD was recognized for excellence in ensuring equal opportunities in the mounting task of protecting the region’s water environment. Dr. Catherine O’Connor, director of the MWRD’s Engineering Department, was honored as the recipient of the U.S. Minority Contractors Association (USMCA) Excellence in Engineering Award at the 32nd Annual Millennium Buildings Awards held on Nov. 16 at Eaglewood Resort in Itasca. Dr. O’Connor's outstanding contributions to the field of engineering, coupled with her commitment to diversity and inclusion, earned her this esteemed recognition. 

 This award is a testament to Dr. O’Connor's exceptional work and her advocacy for diversity within the field of engineering. She has not only excelled professionally but has also actively mentored and supported underrepresented individuals in pursuing careers in engineering. Read more information.

Unlocking the potential of floating plants to protect water quality 



MWRD scientists are assessing the potential of using plants to filter unwanted pollutants from wastewater and surface water streams.

The MWRD researchers at the O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant in Skokie, Ill. are studying the feasibility of phytoremediation, a process where plants are used as a tool to clean contaminated environments. Wetland plants can help prevent wind, rain, and groundwater flow from carrying contaminants away from one site to another or deeper underground, but the plants can also clean up a variety of contaminants like metals, pesticides, explosives and oil in water itself.

These valuable plants can also address nutrient pollution. Agricultural runoff, urban development and industrial activities have elevated the flow of nutrients in waterways throughout the world. 

These nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, deprive water of oxygen, deteriorate water quality and contribute to harmful algal blooms and hypoxic “dead zones” that pose grave ecological and economic challenges. These pollutants have surged in recent years, intensifying the environmental burden on aquatic ecosystems.

Phytoremediation with aquatic plants or Artificial Floating Islands (AFIs) is one strategy that could be used to reduce nutrient pollution. However, more testing is needed before it is widely used. Aquatic plants can be cultivated directly in wastewater, and AFIs are hydroponic systems where wetland plants are suspended by a floating raft in wastewater.

In both cases, the plants and bacterial communities attached to their roots consume phosphorus and nitrogen, resulting in cleaner water, and plant growth that can be harvested and utilized, transplanted, or kept in place. Read more information.


The MWRD is accepting pre-applications from local government organizations for the Green Infrastructure Program



The MWRD partners with local government organizations to help pay for the construction of green infrastructure.

Pre-Application forms are open.

Submit a pre-application form by December 31, 2023. Pre-Applications are mandatory to apply and must be on file by the deadline. Our team will review your Pre-Application Form and contact you with any questions and feedback. For more information contact Holly Sauter, Principal Civil Engineer, at or call 312-286-6023.

Applications are also open for the MWRD’s Stormwater Management Conceptual Projects & Voluntary Flood Prone Property Acquisition Program

The MWRD is accepting applications to provide technical assistance for Conceptual Projects.

New This Year: Complete a Pre-Application (Meeting Request) Form and attend a Pre-Application Meeting to be considered for a partnership.

  • Deadline for Pre-Application (Meeting Request) Forms is Friday, Dec. 8, 2023.
  • Deadline for Pre-Application Meetings is Friday, Dec. 29, 2023.
  • Deadline for Full Applications is Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.

Apply and find additional Conceptual Projects program information.


Sign up for Overflow Action Alert text messages



Did you know that snow and ice can cause too much water entering the sewer system? Sign up to receive Overflow Action Alert text messages year round. When we announce an Overflow Action Alert, you will be reminded to reduce your use of water before, during and after a storm to help prevent excess water from entering local sewers. Learn more.

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. 

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. Read more information.

Permanent Household Hazardous Waste Collection



Dispose of your household chemicals responsibly and recycle your old computers by dropping them off at the City of Chicago's permanent Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility at 1150 N. North Branch Street (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 help unload your vehicle and accept your materials. Materials should not be left outside the facility unattended. Scheduled business hours are:

  • Tuesdays, 7 a.m. - Noon

  • Thursdays, 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.

  • The first Saturday of every month 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.

View accepted items.

MWRD Employment Center

Are you seeking a new career or looking for a new job? 



If so, please visit our online employment center 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.

Go to the Employment Center

Doing Business with the MWRD

Want to learn how to do business with the MWRD? Get started.


The Department of PMM 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 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


Report waterway blockages, dumping to waterways or sewers and odors

Please report waterway blockages, illegal or suspicious dumping to waterways or sewers, or odors. 


Winter is coming - Salt Smart



Winter is coming! The good news is that rock salt helps to keep our roads, parking lots, sidewalks and driveways safe, but the bad news is that this salt often makes its way to our local rivers and streams or is infiltrated into groundwater. The salt can also remain on the landscape or in storm sewers long after winter, providing a constant source of chlorides to our local waterways every time it rains. A small amount goes along way, so go easy on the salt! Learn more at

Tour an MWRD facility



The MWRD is the wastewater treatment and stormwater management agency for Chicago and 128 suburban communities within Cook County, Illinois. We work to mitigate flooding and convert wastewater into valuable resources like clean water, phosphorus, biosolids and natural gas. 

If you live within our service area, the water that goes down your toilet, sinks and drains eventually comes to us to be cleaned. Nearly 500 billion gallons of wastewater is treated by our seven water reclamation plants every year. The MWRD's total wastewater treatment capacity is over 2.0 billion gallons per day. Learn more about the work of the MWRD on our YouTube channel or schedule a group tour and/or visit us virtually. Learn more.


Historical Photo of the Month

Historical Photo: A view looking north at the intersection of State and Washington Streets on July 9, 1916


Historical Photo: A view looking north at the intersection of State and Washington Streets on July 9, 1916.

December 2023 Calendar

Caption: The Chicago Riverwalk attracts all types of critters, both wild and domesticated, in the warm months and even during winter. The MWRD's work to protect water quality has helped the Riverwalk thrive as a sight-seeing destination featuring views of the Chicago River and surrounding architecture.


December 2023 Calendar page

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: