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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

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

Upcoming Events


Monthly Virtual Tour set for June 4 at 2 p.m. 

Embark on a captivating virtual tour with the MWRD. 

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. Make this an afternoon of exploration, innovation and environmental wonders.

Register for the virtual tour

 

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MWRD Board of Commissioners May meetings
Thursdays, June 6 and 20, 10:30 a.m.

Board of Commissioners Portrait

The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 6 and Thursday, June 20.

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

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

Watch meeting


MWRD to raise Pride flag on June 6 at 10 a.m.

On Thursday, June 6, at 10 a.m., the MWRD Board of Commissioners and staff will raise the Pride flag for the fifth year in a row. This ceremony will take place at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie St., Chicago, as well as at all MWRD water reclamation plants.

In alignment with the MWRD’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equality, staff and Commissioners have advocated for equitable access and opportunities within our organization. This includes expanding benefits and healthcare coverage for same-sex couples and actively participating in the annual Chicago Pride Parade.

This event not only celebrates Pride Month but also reaffirms our dedication to fostering a workplace where all individuals feel respected, supported, and valued. A signature event will take place June 20. More information can be found later in this newsletter. 

 

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Lockport Powerhouse Open House and Tours
Saturday, June 8, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

On Saturday, June 8, step back in time to tour the MWRD's historic Lockport Powerhouse and learn how it helped establish the canal to save the Chicago region.

Lockport Powerhouse has been generating hydroelectricity since 1907 and continues operation today with upgraded state-of-the art technology. At the downstream end of the 76-mile Chicago Area Waterway System, Lockport Powerhouse helps maintain water levels and provide drainage for the Chicago area. 

Join our team of expert guides for an adventure through time, where you'll have a firsthand view of this innovative and majestic facility. There is no parking at the Powerhouse; park at 303 W. 2nd St., Lockport, then board a free bus for a 10 minute ride to the Powerhouse. The last bus to the Powerhouse departs at 1:30 p.m. 

Learn more

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Puerto Rican People's Day Parade is June 8

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If you can't make it to the Lockport Powerhouse, consider watching the Puerto Rican People's Day Parade in Chicago on June 8. Beginning at 2 p.m., the parade route starts on Division St. at Campbell Ave., travels west to Sacramento and disbands on Humboldt Drive. 


Juneteenth Parade is June 15

Join the MWRD as our float takes part in Chicago's Juneteenth parade on Saturday, June 15 starting at 11 a.m. at 2901 W. Monroe.

About Juneteenth

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Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, marks the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of slavery, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln. It is a significant day in American history, symbolizing freedom and the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is now a federal holiday, celebrated with various events, including parades, cultural festivals, and educational activities, to honor African American history and heritage. The Juneteenth flag will be raised at the MOB and at all plants.


MWRD to host Pride Month celebration
Thursday, June 20, 4:45 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

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On June 20 at 4:45 p.m., join the MWRD at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie St., Chicago, for a special celebration in honor of Pride Month 2024! This event will highlight the importance of diversity and representation, while celebrating the invaluable contributions of LGBTQIA+ individuals within our community.

This year’s theme, "Pride is Power," underscores the strength and resilience of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Don't miss this opportunity to connect, learn, and celebrate together.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Register


MWRD, Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways announce funding for stormwater management projects

The MWRD Board of Commissioners and Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways are announcing the funding of 26 stormwater management projects on Monday, June 24, at 1 p.m.

The MWRD Board of Commissioners and Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways (DoTH) will announce the funding of 26 stormwater management projects on Monday, June 24 at 1 p.m. in front of the Main Office Building Annex, 111 E. Erie Street, Chicago. 

Known as the Stormwater Management Project Implementation Program, these projects focus on supporting under-resourced communities, including 16 District-managed projects, thanks to $20 million in funding provided through the American Rescue Plan Act. 

MWRD Commissioners, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, DoTH Superintendent Jennifer “Sis” Killen plan and municipal leaders will announce the investment.


Monitoring and Research Monthly Seminar set for Friday, June 28 at 10:30 a.m.

"Environmental Pathogen Engineering" 

On Friday, June 28, at 10:30 a.m., Charles N. Haas, Ph.D., L.D. Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will present "Environmental Pathogen Engineering."

Charles Haas, Ph.D

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

Virtual: Go to Seminars and Presentations on June 28 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.

 The seminar is eligible for Professional Development Credits/CEUs. 

Learn more

 


 See you at the Evergreen Park Parade on June 28

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Look for the MWRD float at the Evergreen Park Parade on June 28 at 6:30 p.m. The parade kicks off at 95th & Springfield, proceeds east on 95th St. to Richmond, turns north and finishes at 91st Street.

Learn more

 


MWRD Commissioner Precious Brady-Davis to serve as Chicago Pride Parade Grand Marshal

Kick-off set for Saturday, June 30 at 11 a.m.

Commissioner Brady-Davis

MWRD Commissioner Precious Brady-Davis has been selected to serve as a grand marshal for the 2024 Chicago Pride Parade. The Commissioner will be joined by her husband Myles, comedian Fortune Feimster and her wife Jax Smith, Art Johnston and Jose "Pepe" Pena.

The parade will step off from Sheridan and Broadway in the Lakeview neighborhood on June 30 at 11 a.m. and will include 150 entries.

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The theme of this year's parade is "Pride is Power," which organizers said is meant to highlight the "fundamental role the Chicago Pride Parade has played in creating visibility and advocating for effective change for the city and region’s LGBTQ+ community for five decades."

2024 Chicago Pride Parade


Save the date: MWRD's Diverse Business Summit set for September 6

Date: Friday, September 6, 2024

Time: 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Location: Malcolm X College, 1900 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL

Diverse_Business_Summit_Flier

Talented entrepreneurs, emerging businesses and veterans will have the unique opportunity to network with established firms and government agencies at the MWRD's Diverse Business Summit set for Friday, September 6 from 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. at Malcolm X College, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago. This event offers potential vendors a valuable opportunity to learn about the MWRD, its contracts, and certification benefits. Attendees will also have the chance to meet with other contractors and government partner agencies.

Panel Discussions: Engage with industry experts and learn about current trends and opportunities in the water reclamation and stormwater management sectors.

One-on-One Meetings: MWRD department heads will be available for personalized meetings to discuss potential business opportunities.

Match-Making Session: Connect with MWRD personnel and key contractors to explore partnership possibilities.

More information will be available shortly.

Latest News


While it’s a time to celebrate freedom, we should never forget that it came at the expense of brave heroes who lost their lives fighting to protect it. Join us as we remember and honor those who courageously gave their lives.

Honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice on this Memorial Day

MWRD leaders champion water resources during Washington, D.C. visit

MWRD Execs with Congressman Dick Durbin
(L-R): MWRD Executive Director Brian A. Perkovich, MWRD President Kari K. Steele, Senator Dick Durbin, and MWRD Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn met in the Senator’s office during a recent visit to Washington, D.C. to discuss the MWRD’s work with historically underserved communities to increase community resiliency.

Leaders from the MWRD elevated their dedication to water stewardship and policy advocacy onto the national platform as MWRD President Kari K. Steele, Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn and Executive Director Brian A. Perkovich embarked on a visit to Washington, D.C. to meet with key policymakers and legislators on Capitol Hill. 

Their mission was to champion sustainable water management practices, advocate for vital stormwater management infrastructure investments, and address pressing environmental challenges facing Cook County.

The entourage discussed the need for federal support in addressing water quality, flood mitigation, and infrastructure modernization. In particular, the MWRD leaders sought federal funding for the rehabilitation of sanitary sewers and major stormwater management projects that help absorb increasing rainfall brought on by climate change. 

The delegation also requested legislative support to address emerging contaminants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The MWRD voiced the need for more protection for water utilities and taxpayers from the liabilities of these hazardous substances so that the polluters, and not the communities, pay the price for removing this pollution from the environment. 

MWRD Execs with Senator Tammy Duckworth
(L-R): MWRD Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn, MWRD Executive Director Brian A. Perkovich, Senator Tammy Duckworth, and MWRD President Kari K. Steele met in the Senator’s office during a recent visit to Washington, D.C., to discuss projects that would help prevent future flooding in Cook County.

 Read more information

MWRD Execs with Senator Robin Kelly
(L-R): MWRD Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn, MWRD President Kari K. Steele, Congresswoman Robin Kelly and MWRD Executive Director Brian A. Perkovich discussed stormwater management projects during a recent visit to Washington, D.C.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Month event held May 14

Mia Park, a multi-dimensional Korean American artist, entertained and educated members of the public and staff at the MWRD's annual Asian American and Pacific Islander Month celebration on Wednesday, May 14 at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building in Chicago. 

Mia celebrated the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the AAPI community. She shared personal stories, showcasing her experiences. By weaving these narratives into her remarks, she fostered a stronger sense of community and collaboration within the MWRD. She encouraged everyone to continue promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion, ensuring that the MWRD remains a leader in both environmental stewardship and workplace inclusivity. 

Read more

AAPI Event with Mia Park and Commissioners
(L-R): MWRD President Kari K. Steele, Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn, Mia Park, Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia, Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos, Commissioner Dan Pogorzelski and Exec. Director Brian Perkovich.
AAPI Event with Mia Park and Commissioner Garcia
Mia Park has a chat with MWRD Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia.
AAPI Event audience
90 staff and guests listened as Mia Park showcased her experiences as a Korean American artist.

12 green infrastructure projects selected for MWRD partnerships

Permeable Parking Lot
A new permeable parking lot at Countryside Park on 61st Street in Countryside uses brick pavers to collect stormwater thanks to financial assistance from the MWRD’s Green Infrastructure Partnership Program.

A dozen projects designed to collect stormwater runoff and mitigate flooding through green infrastructure elements have been selected by the MWRD for funding.

 The MWRD Board of Commissioners approved the selected projects in May as part of the annual call for projects through the Green Infrastructure Partnership Program. The 12 projects were chosen from a field of 35 pre-applications and 22 full applications, with the MWRD placing a priority on disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs) in search of green infrastructure upgrades. 

Each of the selected projects will require an intergovernmental agreement by the end of 2024 for the projects to be completed in 2025. See the list and description of the MWRD’s selected green infrastructure projects below. 

Green Infrastructure Project chart

Open Houses held at the O'Brien and Stickney Water Reclamation Plants for Chicago Water Week

Vice President Flynn and Executive Director Brian Perkovich at Stickney Open House
(L-R) MWRD Exec. Director Brian Perkovich, Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn and Aide to President Kari K. Steele John Joiner welcome visitors at the Stickney Open House.

More than 600 neighbors and curious minds flocked to the MWRD's water reclamation plants as part of Chicago Water Week, an initiative facilitated by Current Water. The impressive crowd dedicated their Saturdays to attend open houses hosted at the O’Brien and Stickney water reclamation plants (WRPs) earlier this month in Skokie and Cicero. These events provided a valuable opportunity for the community to delve into the inner workings of these vital facilities and gain insight into the MWRD's commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation.

 

Commissioner Garcia at Stickney Open House
(L-R):  MWRD Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia, Senior Administrative Specialist Jennifer Burns and Police Chief Paul Connolly during the O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant in Skokie.

The open houses were held on May 4 and 11 and offered the public the opportunity to learn firsthand about the facilities and treatment methods that help the MWRD transform wastewater into clean water in a matter of hours. Visitors were led on tours by knowledgeable staff who explained the processes and the vital role these facilities play in protecting area waterways.

In addition to the informative tours, the open houses featured interactive exhibits and educational displays highlighting the MWRD's efforts to promote water conservation, environmental stewardship, and public outreach.

During Chicago Water Week, the MWRD also hosted a virtual tour on May 7 as part of Chicago Water Week activities, and MWRD President Kari K. Steele  delivered welcoming remarks at the Chicago Water Week signature event to present the MWRD’s Board of Commissioners’ Resolution.

Learn more

Commissioner Pogorzelski at Stickney Open House
(L-R): MWRD Commissioner Dan Pogorzelski with Public Affairs Specialist-Bilingual Melvin Laureano during the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant.
Open House O'Brien Attendees
Visitors get ready to tour the O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant in Skokie.

 

Open House Stickney Attendees
Visitors engage with MWRD staff at the Open House
President Steele at Chicago Water Week
MWRD President Kari K. Steele delivered welcoming remarks at the Chicago Water Week signature event to present the MWRD’s Board of Commissioners’ Resolution.
Scout troop at Stickney Open House
Scouts at the Stickney Open House.
Goats grazing on the Stickney Open House tour
Guests touring the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant saw goats and sheep clearing weeds along the route.

MWRD in the News


“Skokie water reclamation plant gives tours, holds open house,” Pioneer Press

O'Brien Plant pumps Open House
Photo: Water pumps underneath the street surface bring water from sewers to the O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant in Skokie. The plant can process up to 500 million gallons a day, according to staff. (Richard Requena, Pioneer Press)

Members of the public got a chance Saturday to peek inside the enormous building at Howard Street and McCormick Boulevard and see how employees there treat sewage water until it’s clean enough to release into the public waterways. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago held an open house on May 4 at the O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant in Skokie in honor of Chicago Water Week. Employees led tour groups to demonstrate how water comes into the plant and how it is treated to remove solids and bacteria before being discharged into the North Shore Channel of the Chicago River.  

Read more

Resources


Sign up for Overflow Action Alert text messages

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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.

Sign up for alerts


Join Our Team!  

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 participate 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.

Employment Center


Purchase MWRD Rain Barrels

MWRD Rain Barrels

The MWRD offers eco-friendly, low-cost rain barrels available in four colors. These 55-gallon barrels are repurposed, adding an extra layer of green to your home. Don't miss out on this opportunity to conserve water and reduce runoff while adding a splash of color to your surroundings. 

Order yours today

Watch an installation video


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. to noon through October. 

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

Learn more

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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. 

Download guide


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. 

More PFAS information


Permanent Household Hazardous Waste Collection

Dispose of your household chemicals responsibly and recycle your old computers.

The public may drop 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.

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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 accepted items


Doing Business with the MWRD

The MWRD 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 forea@mwrd.org

Get started


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

Call 800-332-DUMP (3867) or in Spanish 855-323-4801

Learn more


Tour an MWRD facility

Tour group at O'Brien

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.

Schedule a tour

Extras


Historical Photo of the Month

Historical image of the Lockport Powerhouse

Construction of the Lockport Powerhouse, lock and dam on April 11, 1907. Between 1903 and 1907, the Sanitary District of Chicago (now MWRD) extended the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal (CSSC) and built the Lockport Powerhouse, lock and dam to generate hydroelectric power and to allow passage of watercraft between the Des Plaines River and the CSSC.


June 2024 Calendar

Native pickerelweed grows on the banks of Lake Katherine in Palos Heights. This perennial plant can grow in shallow water and provide protection to fish and other aquatic wildlife while also attracting pollinators to its flowers. Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens is one of the many parks and natural areas on MWRD property.

Download the MWRD 2024 Calendar

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Newsletter
Events

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:

public.affairs@mwrd.org

312-751-6633