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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

For The Love of Water (FLOW) is a summary of news from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. 

Upcoming Events

Board of Commissioners to meet July 13


The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 13. Public comments may be made in person at 100 E. Erie Street, Chicago, during the Public Comment period.

To view the meetings, visit Click the "In Progress" link under the Video Column. This link will be active when there is a meeting in session.

MWRD's monthly Virtual Tour to be held Tuesday, July 25 at 2 p.m. 

Join the MWRD on a virtual tour at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25.

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.

Latest News

MWRD Commissioner Patricia Theresa Flynn elected Vice President


The MWRD Board of Commissioners has elected a new vice president to help lead the agency tasked with a critical mission to protect the region’s water environment.

Commissioner Patricia Theresa Flynn was elected by her peers to serve as vice president during the meeting of the MWRD Board of Commissioners on June 15. Vice President Flynn replaces Kimberly Du Buclet, who was recently appointed to serve as state representative in the Illinois General Assembly.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to serve the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago as a commissioner and even more today as vice president,” Vice President Flynn said. “I give my oath and promise to serve this agency and our constituents to the best of my ability and thank my fellow commissioners and our taxpayers for placing their trust in my leadership.”

Elected to the MWRD Board of Commissioners in 2022, Vice President Flynn serves as chairman of the MWRD committees on Ethics, Industrial Waste and Water Pollution and Labor and Industrial Relations, and she also serves as vice chair of the committees on Information Technology and Public Information and Education. Read more here.

Juneteenth flag raising and celebration mark MWRD’s commitment to freedom, achievement and racial equality

Commemorating a holiday with meaning and reflection, the MWRD raised the Juneteenth flag at all seven of its water reclamation plants as well as their headquarters at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie St.

In the evening, (pictured below) the MWRD welcomed the Diamano African Dancers and Drummers, performing artist Yaw Agyeman, PUSH Excel Youth Orators, performing artist, arts advocate and music educator Theophilus Reed, and Dr. Kim Dulaney, vice president of Education and Programs at the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center.

Juneteenth is an important milestone in American history, as it commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. On June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, two months after Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant presided over the surrender at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. He informed formerly enslaved African Americans that the Civil War had ended and that they had been granted freedom almost two years earlier, effective January 1, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was enacted. 

The Juneteenth flag holds special meaning in its symbols. The star represents freedom for every Black American and pays homage to the lone star of Texas, where the last enslaved people were freed. The burst surrounding the star represents a new beginning for all, and the arc represents a new horizon of opportunities for Black Americans. Read more here

MWRD raises rainbow flag to celebrate Pride month and presents resolution to Equality Illinois

Pictured: MWRD's Board of Commissioners are shown in front of the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building holding the Pride flag, as staff at the water reclamation plants raised the flag.

On June 1, the MWRD Board of Commissioners, staff and friends demonstrated our values of inclusion, acceptance, and fairness to all we serve and waved the rainbow flag at our Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building and all of our plants in honor of Pride Month. Commissioners also presented a resolution to Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson.

"Chonkosaurus” represents Chicago River water quality improvements thanks to MWRD and clean water advocacy

A mammoth snapping turtle dubbed “Chonkosaurus” that was spotted on the North Branch of the Chicago River and shared on social media last month has offered new insights into the work of the MWRD.

As the legend of Chonkosaurus grows, so too are the stories of the environment where “Chonk” roams. Improved water quality and habitat have been largely credited with providing a healthier ecosystem for Chonk and friends, as well as kayakers, boaters and others seeking to recreate and visit the Chicago River.

The 30–40-pound snapping turtle became an internet sensation when botanists and podcast hosts Joey Santore and companion Al Scorch spotted it while paddling on the North Branch. The viral tweet attracted 900,000 views and caused flocks of turtle seekers to visit the river in search of Chonk. The turtle has garnered the attention of Chicagoans longing for the next “Chance the Snapper” or Monty and Rose the piping plovers, and despite its monstrous appearance, the turtle is proving to be as beloved as a new pack of fox pups spotted at Millennium Park recently.

Tasked with protecting the quality of the Chicago River and area waterways, the MWRD is proud to see Chonk emerge but not surprised by this resurgence of wildlife on the waterways. Thanks in part to advancements at MWRD water treatment operations and the MWRD’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, the Chicago Area Waterway System is thriving. Game fish are routinely caught by anglers, marinas and riverside economic development are booming and more turtles are turning to the waterways for habitat. Read more here.

Fulton County Field Day wraps up

Another annual Field Day in Fulton County is complete. On June 20, MWRD Commissioner Daniel Pogorzelski, Executive Director Brian Perkovich and staff joined the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois State Representative Norine Hammond, Fulton County Farm Bureau, Cook County Farm Bureau, University of Illinois College of ACES, Illinois Nutrient Research & Education Council, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, local farmers, university researchers, and sustainability and wastewater professionals gathered to share the latest agricultural nutrient research, treatment plant efforts and how this research helps farmers protect soil and water health.

The MWRD makes our land in Fulton County, west of Peoria near Canton, available for farmers, researchers and partners at the Illinois Farm Bureau and University of Illinois to serve as a living laboratory to conduct research and demonstrations for practices that reduce nutrient loss at field scale. Reducing farm field runoff of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen can protect water quality downstream in local waterways and as far as the Gulf of Mexico.

Together working with agricultural sector, we are making a difference. New forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the summer “dead zone” in the Gulf has shrunk compared to its 36-year history of dead zone average measurements in the region. This is a victory for aquatic life and our collaboration to manage nutrient runoff. 

Strategic Plan dashboard tracks MWRD progress, measures success

A milestone following the second anniversary of its ambitious five-year strategic plan, the MWRD has launched a new dashboard to track its progress in meeting goals and important metrics for major initiatives in its work to protect the regional water environment.

The dashboard, found at, takes into consideration a range of items and goals that the MWRD strives to meet in the short and long-term. These informative data points, graphs and charts allow viewers to learn more about the MWRD and how the agency is striving to meet five strategic goals of Resource Management, Stormwater Management, Workforce Excellence, Community Engagement and Enterprise Resilience.

Visitors to the MWRD website, for example, can track and learn more about the status of the MWRD’s finances and property tax collection and Retirement Fund progress; work in meeting federal permits and clean water; its work in pursuing energy neutrality, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and electricity usage; MWRD water reuse and phosphorus recovered; safety goals and metrics; its progress and scope of stormwater management projects throughout Cook County; demographics of the MWRD workforce; and community engagement metrics through outreach events and presentations. Read more here.  

MWRD upholds platinum performances with sustained excellence in meeting permits

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has honored the MWRD with platinum awards for its shining commitment to managing the region’s water environment.

 NACWA announced that the MWRD will be honored with the Excellence in Management (EIM) Platinum Recognition award and six Platinum Peak Performance awards for having six water reclamation plants (WRPs) extend a streak of more than five years of achieving 100 percent compliance in meeting National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The MWRD was praised for topping the charts with a Platinum Peak Performance award at six WRPs:

  • Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, Chicago, 31 years
  • Lemont Water Reclamation Plant, Lemont, 26 years
  • James C. Kirie Water Reclamation Plant, Des Plaines, 18 years
  • O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant, Skokie, 17 years
  • Hanover Park Water Reclamation Plant, Hanover Park, 15 years
  • John E. Egan Water Reclamation Plant, Schaumburg, 9 years

Read more here.

GFOA honors MWRD with financial reporting excellence

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has once again recognized the MWRD for a sterling record of transparent and responsible financial reporting.

 This marks 47 consecutive years in which the MWRD has received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, placing the essential utility in the top two percent of governments receiving a consecutive award.

In addition, the GFOA honored the MWRD with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 2022 Budget and Certificates of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the MWRD Retirement Fund and the MWRD Retiree Health Care Trust for the Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Comprehensive Finance Reports (ACFR). The MWRD has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for 38 consecutive years and the Retirement Fund and Retiree Health Care Trust have been recognized for 29 and 15 consecutive years, respectively. Read more here. 


Free oak saplings available

Complimentary red, pin, bur, black or swamp white oak saplings are available at our water reclamation plants on Wednesdays from 9 a.m.-noon. 

The saplings come in one gallon pots or can be requested as bare roots in bags of 100. These must be planted within a matter of days for premium viability.

If more than 50 potted saplings are desired, delivery is available, or park districts, residents and municipalities can schedule pick ups. Learn more at

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.

MWRD Rain Barrel program

The MWRD offers low cost rain barrels. These 55 gallons barrels are doubly green as they are repurposed and come in four colors.

Order yours online at

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 here.

Permanent Household Hazardous Waste Collection


Dispose of your household chemicals responsibly and recycle your old computers by dropping them off at the City’s permanent Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility at 1150 N. North Branch Street, Chicago (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 be ready to 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 by visiting this link.

MWRD Employment Center

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

If so, please visit our online employment center at this link 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 at:

Click here to enter our Employment Center

Doing Business with the MWRD

Want to learn how to do business with the MWRD? Visit this link to get started. 

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 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, suspicious dumping to waterways or sewers and odors

There are three ways the public can report waterway blockages, illegal or suspicious dumping to waterways or sewers, or odors

  1. Call 800-332-DUMP (3867) or, in Spanish, 855-323-4801
  2. Visit our website 
  3. Use our iOS app

Tour a MWRD facility

Tours of our facilities are back in full force, and we look forward to seeing you!

Schedule a group tour and/or visit us virtually. Learn more at 


Historical Photo of the Month

Historical Photo: Boats and bridges on July 2, 1910, looking west towards the lifted State Street and Dearborn Street bridges, which were both built by the Sanitary District of Chicago (now MWRD).

July 2023 Calendar

Caption: A Savannah sparrow is pictured in a grassy open area at the top of Centennial Hill built by the MWRD using excavated material from the nearby McCook Reservoir. It is located along the Centennial Trail between Willow Springs Road and Illinois Route 83 in the Columbia Woods Forest Preserve near Willow Springs.

While supplies last, please contact for a 2023 wall 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: