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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

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

Upcoming Events

MWRD Board of Commissioners January meeting dates

Board of Commissioners Portrait

The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 4 and 18.

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.


MWRD's monthly Virtual Tour set for January 16 at 2 p.m. 

Join the MWRD on a virtual tour at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, January 16. 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 for an upcoming tour!



Monitoring and Research Seminar set for Friday, January 26: “Environmental Justice Using Urban Scalable Toolkit” presented by Dr. Ashish Sharma

Aerial view of MWRD plant

On Friday, January 26 at 10:30 a.m., join the MWRD for a one hour seminar featuring Dr. Ashish Sharma, Adjunct Professor/Climate and Urban Sustainability Lead, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois. This event will be held at the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant and virtually. The seminar is eligible for Professional Development Credits/CEUs. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance, and a picture ID is required for plant entry.

In person: Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, Lue-Hing R&D Complex, 6001 West Pershing Rd., Cicero, IL.

Virtual: Go to Seminars and Presentations on January 24 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

MWRD President Kari K. Steele shines on global stage during Denmark’s Water Policy Delegation in Copenhagen

President Steele stood alongside distinguished Danish water leaders as a member of their first U.S. water delegation, representing a diverse array of government bodies, associations, and utilities on a global scale. The gathering was financed by the European Union and hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and Denmark’s State of Green. 

The international visit served as a platform for exchanging ideas and best practices focusing on key concerns now and in the future, such as climate change, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and environmental administration. 

President Steele delivered a compelling presentation outlining MWRD's progressive water initiatives and participated in roundtable discussions covering crucial topics such as nutrient runoff, biosolids, PFAS (Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), microplastics, cyber security in the water sector, and energy efficiency. There was also a robust daily itinerary. Participants visited three water treatment plants and environmental facilities in four cities throughout Denmark.

Read more about the meeting.

MWRD President Kari K. Steele showcased the MWRD’s commitment to sustainable water management practices during her participation in an international water policy delegation held in Copenhagen, Denmark from November 4 through November 9.


President’s Annual Message 2023

In 2023, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s (MWRD's) key goals aimed to provide excellence in stormwater management, wastewater treatment, climate change accountability, and fiscal responsibility. We successfully advanced those goals. 

We completed the Addison Creek Reservoir to provide flood relief to Bellwood, Northlake, Stone Park, Melrose Park, Westchester and Broadview. We cut the ribbon on the $7.7-million Crestwood Flood Control Project. We joined the Village of Niles to inaugurate the Golf Mill Park stormwater project to capture more stormwater, mitigate flooding and improve area water quality. Dozens of other stormwater management projects on the north, west and south sides of Cook County were also launched. 

Additionally, by working with our federal and local partners, we leveraged an additional $36 million for projects to alleviate flooding in Cook County.

Meanwhile, we advanced groundbreaking research to address water pollutants, securing an official United States patent with our partners at Iowa State University Research Foundation for technology to remove dissolved solids from wastewater as part of a unique algae recovery system that aims to reduce carbon emissions and recover nutrients to improve water quality. As the world braces for the unpredictability of climate change, our Board of Commissioners adopted a climate action plan that guides us in reducing greenhouse gas emissions to thwart the crippling effects of global warming, flooding, and pollution that threaten the region’s water resources.

Our commitment to fiscal responsible stewardship and professional management were also recognized this year. Fitch Ratings again affirmed the MWRD’s AAA credit rating. Moody’s Investor Services upgraded the MWRD’s credit rating to Aa1. And the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) honored the MWRD with platinum awards including Excellence in Management.

This year we set out to provide excellence in stormwater management, wastewater treatment, climate change accountability, and fiscal responsibility. And we did. Here is a deeper look at outstanding achievements from the year that was 2023.

President Kari K. Steele

Read the entire message


Investing in women, water and community; MWRD makes inaugural public funds investment in First Women’s Bank

An investment made by the MWRD is maximizing public dollars toward protecting critical water infrastructure and the environment while also uplifting a financial institution uniquely positioned to offer women more business opportunities. 

The MWRD Treasury Section executed its first certificate of deposit (CD) investment with Chicago-based First Women’s Bank (FWB). The $1 million CD, at a 4.50-percent rate, is the first government account for FWB, the only women-founded, women-owned and women-led commercial bank in the country. 

North Shore Channel Wildlife

Founded in 2021, FWB is a “first-of-its-kind, purpose-driven bank with a mission to grow the economy and advance the role of women within it,” according to its mission statement. The bank recently completed its certifications with regulatory agencies to now allow governmental agencies to complete CD transactions with the bank.

In late 2019, the MWRD updated its investment policy to consider environmental, social, governance/leadership (ESG), human capital, and business model/innovation factors in addition to financial factors when evaluating investments that bolster the MWRD’s finances for construction, operating funds, and debt service funds. Human capital factors, such as diversity and inclusion, are considered when making these investments.

Read more about the investment.


MWRD to help fund Prospect Heights Flood Control Project 

An agreement approved by the MWRD Board of Commissioners calls for MWRD funding to support a flood control project that will come to the rescue of Prospect Heights residents who, for years, have not been able to enter or exit their homes on rainy days.

The agreement between the MWRD, the City of Prospect Heights, and Cook County will allow the MWRD to fund $1.8 million toward an intergovernmental collaboration to curb flooding near Willow Road at McDonald Creek Tributary A in Prospect Heights. 

The proposed project involves raising three area roadways (Willow Road, Hillcrest Drive, and Owen Court) and installing new culverts and compensatory storage areas. In recent years, during heavy rains, about 60 homes in the area have been completely inaccessible. The Prospect Heights Flood Control Project has a total cost estimate of $3.12 million and includes design, construction, operation, and maintenance.

A flood control project long discussed in Prospect Heights along Willow Road is one step closer to reality thanks to funding from the MWRD and the identification of a compensatory storage location.
Willow Road Closure May 2020
Flooding along Willow Road in May 2020.


Brookfield storm sewer improvements approved by MWRD

The MWRD Board of Commissioners has approved an agreement with the Village of Brookfield to implement structural upgrades to the Burlington Avenue Storm Sewer. The agreement marks a step forward in flood prevention efforts within Brookfield. The Burlington Avenue Storm Sewer Improvements Project, which includes design, construction, operation, and maintenance, has a total cost estimated at $1.1 million. Now that the Board has approved the IGA, the project is poised to move forward with subsequent crucial steps, marking a significant stride towards its realization.

The MWRD will help fund $1.1 million toward the Burlington Avenue Storm Sewer Improvements Project, which includes design, construction, operation, and maintenance.


Acting Diversity Administrator Richard L. Martinez, Jr. receives award


Congratulations to MWRD Acting Diversity Administrator Richard L. Martinez, Jr., who was recently honored with the Champion of Diversity and Economic Inclusion Award from the COMPASS Institute of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for his leadership and commitment to policies, practices and performance for the MWRD and Chicago area business community. COMPASS Institute's vision is to advance the implementation of DEI best practices and elevate performance standards. The COMPASS Institute annually recognizes professionals whose work efforts are making a difference. The awards were presented at the COMPASS Institute for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2023 Conference held in Baltimore, Maryland.


MWRD featured on CBS 2 Chicago

“Metropolitan Water Reclamation District plans more projects to help curb flooding,” CBS2, Chicago

“The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago is now on the hunt for places to install projects that could help with flooding. As CBS 2’s Marybel González reported, one effort is already working in northwest suburban Harwood Heights.”  

Read more about the projects and watch the video.


Winterize your rain barrel

It’s not too late to winterize your rain barrel! Be sure to empty your rain barrels as freezing water inside may cause cracks to form. Store your barrels indoors when possible.


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


Winter is here - Salt Smart!


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.


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 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. 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

Historical Photo: The South Branch of the Chicago River viewed from a dock wall looking southwest toward the Canal Street bridge on June 12, 1900.

The South Branch of the Chicago River viewed from a dock wall looking southwest toward the Canal Street bridge on June 12, 1900. 

January 2024 Calendar

The cover of our 2024 calendar features a monarch enjoying the late summer black-eyed Susan flowers. The native prairies at Rutherford Sayre Park in the Galewood neighborhood of Chicago are part of a green infrastructure installation funded by the MWRD. The MWRD has invested in over 100 green infrastructure projects throughout Cook County. Photo by Dan Wendt/MWRD.

Request a copy of our wall calendar


2024 Calendar

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: