Skip to main content

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

For the Love of Water (FLOW) is the MWRD monthly news summary. 

Upcoming Events

MWRD to raise the Pan-African Flag on Feb. 1 at 10 a.m.

The MWRD will celebrate Black History Month throughout February to highlight the MWRD’s commitment to diversity, to support the Black community and to honor the achievements of African Americans. 

The fifth annual raising of the Pan-African flag will take place at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie Street on Thursday, Feb. 1 at 10 a.m. At the same time, all seven MWRD water reclamation plants will raise the flag.

The design of the Pan-African flag has special meaning:

• The red represents the blood of African people shed for liberation.

• The black represents people of African descent.

• The green represents the continent of Africa and all of its natural wealth.

Register for the event





MWRD Board of Commissioners February meeting dates

Board of Commissioners Portrait

The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 1 and 15.

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

Watch the meeting

In the Video column, the "In Progress" link will be active during a meeting. Closed captioning is available.


Water Technology Alliance to host webinar February 6

The Water Technology Alliance invites you to a Stormwater and Rainwater Handling Webinar in collaboration with the MWRD and Aarhus Vand in Denmark.

Date: February 6, 2024
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. CDT

During this engaging webinar, the MWRD and Aarhus Vand will share their invaluable insights and approaches, shedding light on the day to day operation and challenges while highlighting the fascinating world of stormwater management. The similarities and differences between the practices in Chicago and Denmark will be discussed. 

Patrick Jensen, MWRD Principal Civil Engineer, will speak about TARP and Holly Sauter, MWRD Principal Civil Engineer, will discuss MWRD´ s stormwater management program. Yansi Mary Jesusloganathan, Aarhus Vand Project Manager, will speak on stormwater and rainwater in Denmark. 

Register for the webinar



Monthly Virtual Tour set for February 14 at 2 p.m. 


Celebrate Valentine's Day by embarking on a captivating virtual tour with the MWRD at 2 p.m. Immerse yourself in the depths of the world's largest water reclamation facility, venture through the intricate Deep Tunnel system, encounter the enchanting dancing water bear, and witness the fascinating process of electrofishing in action. Delve into the rich history that defines us and discover the compelling stories that position us as a forward-thinking utility for the future. Secure your spot and make this Valentine's Day an exploration of innovation and environmental wonders.

Register for an upcoming tour!


MWRD to host a Black History Month celebration

On Feb. 15, the MWRD will host a Black History Month celebration at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building beginning at 4:45 p.m.

The event will celebrate this year’s national theme of “African Americans and the Arts.” 

Black History Month is a powerful, symbolic celebration and a time for acknowledgement, reflection and inspiration.

Register for the event



Monitoring and Research Seminar set for Friday, February 23: “Global Climate Change Impacts on Aquatic Communities of the Chicago Wilderness Area and Implications for Restoration Strategies,” presented by James Bland

Aerial view of MWRD plant


On Friday, February 23 at 10:30 a.m., join the MWRD for a one hour seminar featuring “Global Climate Change Impacts on Aquatic Communities of the Chicago Wilderness Area and Implications for Restoration Strategies,” James Bland, Director, Environmental Products and Services, Inc.

The seminar is eligible for Professional Development Credits/CEUs. This event will be held virtually. No in-person attendance for this seminar. The seminar is eligible for Professional Development Credits/CEUs. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance.

Virtual: Go to Seminars and Presentations on February 21 for the link to access the seminar.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Heng Zhang, Assistant Director of Monitoring and Research, at (708) 588-4264 or (708) 588-4059 or email

Latest News

Last call for stormwater management projects: The MWRD invites partners to submit applications for assistance

Government entities considering protection from flooding have an opportunity to pitch their shovel-ready projects to the MWRD.

The MWRD’s Stormwater Partnership Program is accepting applications to provide funding for shovel-ready stormwater projects now through Feb. 11. Shovel-ready projects have a near finalized design prepared by the partner agency. 

The MWRD will partner to fund the project, while the partner agency will manage the design, construction and long-term maintenance of the project. 

The MWRD also hosts similar programs for green infrastructure projects, conceptual stormwater management projects and voluntary flood-prone property acquisitions. Through these programs, the MWRD works with municipalities to identify solutions and potential funding sources for project implementation. Local governments and public agencies within MWRD’s corporate boundaries can apply to become partners to fund and build the stormwater management projects.

 The MWRD’s Stormwater Partnership Program funds projects that address flooding through a variety of traditional engineering solutions such as localized detention, upsizing critical storm sewers and culverts, pumping stations, establishing drainage ways and green infrastructure. Municipalities, townships, county agencies, park districts, school districts and other government organizations are all eligible to apply. Projects are prioritized on their ability to reduce localized flooding and the number of structures benefitted by the project amongst other criteria. 

Butterfield Creek East Branch along Governors Highway in Richton Park
A detention basin at the Butterfield Creek East Branch along Governors Highway in Richton Park is an example of a project funded through the MWRD’s Stormwater Partnership Program.


Submit a pre-application and watch an MWRD webinar


MWRD commissioners adopt balanced 2024 spending plan

A $1.4 billion budget was approved to continue MWRD's work to transform wastewater into clean water, mitigate flooding, recover resources, protect public health and area water resources, and invest in innovation to improve water quality and lower carbon emissions. 

The MWRD Board of Commissioners formally adopted the budget on Dec. 21. The budget is supported by a total tax levy of $693.7 million that affords the MWRD the resources to serve 5.19 million residents living in Chicago and 128 surrounding municipalities. 


Approximately 61.4 percent of the 2024 appropriation is supported by property tax receipts. The 2024 estimated tax for MWRD services for a $100,000 home is $103.23. The 2024 Budget prepares the MWRD for persistent inflation, demand for construction materials, and increase in the budget for chemicals, reflecting both higher costs and operational needs for changing permit conditions. The MWRD has been able to weather these financial challenges through steady revenue streams. In 2024, the MWRD anticipates more than $100.0 million in revenue through land rentals, user charge, and interest income across all funds. 

The $1.4 billion budget includes the Corporate Fund appropriation of $497.3 million and the Capital Improvement Program, a $495.4 million plan which includes a Capital Improvements Bond Fund, Construction Fund, and Stormwater Management Fund, including stormwater capital projects and stormwater partnerships.

In addition to various infrastructure upgrades at MWRD facilities, the MWRD in 2024 will continue investing in local stormwater management partnerships and green infrastructure while also addressing regional projects like the Addison Creek Channel Improvements and the Robbins Heritage Park and Midlothian Creek Restoration, each of which has benefited from federal support. 

President Steele signing 2024 budget
MWRD President Kari K. Steele signs the 2024 MWRD Budget documents.
Commissioner Spyropoulos signing 2024 budget
MWRD Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos signs budget documents on behalf of the Committee on Budget and Employment.

In 2024, the MWRD will also advance its work to study carbon management, emerging contaminants, energy neutrality and nutrient reductions in the Illinois River Basin with partners from the agricultural sector. 

The MWRD’s budget also places emphasis on fulfilling pension obligations. In 2024 the MWRD will make a supplemental contribution of $42.8 million from Corporate Fund budgetary reserves to the Retirement Fund to maintain the funded ratio. The MWRD will also continue to fund $5 million annually to the OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits) Trust Fund.


Drug take-back collection partnership between MWRD and Cook County Sheriff’s Office protects streets and waterways 

A program that protects unwanted medicine from entering the water environment will continue through a partnership between the MWRD and Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

Medication Disposal Box

The MWRD Board of Commissioners authorized an intergovernmental agreement between the MWRD and the CCSO in December to support the sheriff’s ongoing drug collection and disposal activities and to expand its network of local law enforcement agencies participating within the MWRD’s boundaries. The Cook County Sheriff’s Prescription Drug Take Back Program collects and destroys unwanted prescription drugs at 129 permanent collection sites. 

Since the partnership began collecting in 2018, more than 40,000 pounds of drugs have been collected, including 7,200 pounds of pharmaceuticals in 2023. Over that time, the CCSO estimates it has destroyed more than 97 million pills through the Drug Take Back Program. In addition, the MWRD has four permanent collection sites and annually participates in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. 

Read more about the partnership



Calumet Park unveils Winchester Avenue Disaster Relief Project supported by MWRD green infrastructure partnership

Village of Calumet Park Mayor

New green infrastructure amenities are enhancing a Calumet Park street and collecting more stormwater to protect neighbors, thanks to funding from the MWRD and partners.

 MWRD officials joined Calumet Park Mayor Ronald Denson (pictured) and village officials and neighbors along with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Cook County Board of Commissioners for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Winchester Avenue Disaster Relief Project recently.

Read more about the project


FEMA Region 5 tours Mainstream Pumping Station

Thank you to our partners at FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Region 5 Mitigation Team for joining us in January for a tour of our Mainstream Pumping Station to learn how our Tunnel and Reservoir Plan reduces flooding, improves water quality in Chicago area waterways and protects Lake Michigan from pollution. We value FEMA’s leadership and collaboration in addressing stormwater management and protecting our water environment!

FEMA Region 5 tour the Mainstream Pumping Station

MWRD in the News

“A mere dash of salt will do, water district reminds residents as winter sets in,” WBBM 780 Newsradio

Easy does it on the salt this winter, officials with Chicago’s water system are urging property owners. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago reminds residents they should not use excessive amounts of salt on their sidewalks and driveways as they try to melt away snow and ice.

Just a dash of salt will do, officials say. In fact, it takes a surprisingly small amount of salt to do the job. A 12-ounce cup, for example, holds enough for 10 sidewalk squares or a 12-foot driveway.

Using less salt helps the environment, the district says, because salt can run off into the Chicago River or Lake Michigan, or even the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. Salt can hurt animal paws and corrode vehicles.

Other tips include:

-Shovel first. Salt should only be used after the snow is removed and only in areas needed for safety.

-Spread the salt. Distribute it evenly, not in clumps.

-Switch, if necessary. Salt stops working if the temperature drops below 15 degrees. Switch to sand if it gets this cold.

Listen to the report

“Chicago deploys more than 200 plows ahead of upcoming winter storm,” NBC 5

MWRD Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn and MWRD Assistant Director of Monitoring and Research Jen Wasik were interviewed regarding salt usage during winter weather events. Beginning at the 1:06 mark, they discussed that the MWRD encourages the public to go easy on the salt. They pointed out that chlorides from road salt can end up in the water environment and pose risks to aquatic life; road salts travel into soil, groundwater, and surface waters; the MWRD encourages the public to shovel first; salt should only be used after the snow is removed; a 12-ounce cup should be enough for a 20-foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares; distribute salt evenly, not in clumps; road salt does not work below 15 degrees F; and if salt is leftover on the ground after the ice melts, sweep it up to keep it out of local rivers and streams. 

Watch the story

NBC 5 Chicago Logo


Winter is here - Salt Smart!

Easy on the Salt

Winter is here! 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!

Visit the webpage for more information


Sign up for Overflow Action Alert text messages

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

Sign up for text alerts



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



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.

The Green Neighbor Guide

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 is the key to pollution prevention when it comes to are Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?

The key to pollution prevention is addressing the source of 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. Visit the webpage for 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 am - Noon
  • Thursdays 2 pm - 7 pm
  • The first Saturday of every month 8 am - 3 pm

See which items will be accepted

Doing Business with the MWRD

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 over $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 for a weekly email listing new contract announcements by emailing

Learn how to do business with the MWRD

Report waterway blockages, dumping to waterways or sewers and odors

  1. Call 800-332-DUMP (3867) or, in Spanish, 855-323-4801
  2. Report online

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.

Schedule a group tour and/or visit us virtually


Historical Photo of the Month

HiHistorical Photo: A steamship passes through the 8 Track Rail Bridge near Western Avenue on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal

A steamship passes through the 8 Track Rail Bridge near Western Avenue on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) viewed from an area that is currently home to the Richard J. Daley Park and boat launch on the south side of the CSSC on April 20, 1921. 

February 2024 Calendar

Fleabane is a common native plant that is easy to grow and provides numerous small flowers in late summer through early fall. The pollen of the flowerheads attracts different insects including pollinators. Fleabanes can be found throughout the MWRD's native prairie landscaping enhancing facility grounds and collecting stormwater.

February 2024 Calendar page Fleabane is a common native plant that is easy to grow and provides numerous small flowers

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: