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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 March meeting dates


Board of Commissioners Portrait


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

Watch the meeting

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


Monthly Virtual Tour set for March 12 at 2 p.m. 


Celebrate an early St. Patrick's Day by embarking on a captivating virtual tour with the MWRD at 2 p.m. on March 12.

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 St. Patrick's Day an exploration of innovation and environmental wonders.

Register for an upcoming tour!




MWRD to host Women's History Month Lunch and Learn on March 27 at noon


Dr. Claudia Hernandez


MWRD to host Women’s History Month Lunch and Learn Event featuring Dr. Claudia Hernandez, an accomplished dermatologist with a passion for education and research. 

Join us as Dr. Hernandez shares insights into her expertise and experience in the field of dermatology.

Date: Wednesday, March 27

Time: Noon – 1 p.m.

Location: Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building,
100 E. Erie Street, Chicago, IL

Seating is limited. Light refreshments will be provided. 

Register by March 26


Monitoring and Research Monthly Seminar set for March 29 at 10:30 a.m.

On Friday, March 29 at 10:30 a.m., join the MWRD for a one hour seminar featuring the topic “Interspecies Competition Between Nitrobacter and Nitrospira in Mainstream Nitritating Biological Nutrient Removal," presented by MWRD Environmental Research Scientist Jason Mellin. 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 March 27 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


Earth Day Cleanup of Hazel Johnson EJ Way set for Earth Day, April 22






The MWRD's Calumet Community Partnership Council is gearing up for a meaningful event to enhance our environment. 

We invite the public to join in a collective effort to beautify the area along Hazel Johnson EJ Way. Let's come together this Earth Day to make a positive impact on our community and the planet!

When: Monday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring their own rakes, gloves, and trash bags or:

9th Ward residents can pick up supplies at 13134 S. Vernon, next door to Golden Gate Park

10th Ward residents can pick up supplies at the PCR office located at 13330 S. Corliss Ave., Chicago.

Clean-up activities will take place along 130th Street, spanning from Ellis Ave. to Michigan Ave., or at the Golden Gate Subdivision. 

To participate, please register by April 15 by emailing Lolita Thompson, Principal Civil Engineer. 

ALSO: Join in the celebration as a new mural in honor of Hazel Johnson is unveiled at Aldridge Elementary School on April 15 at 10 a.m.

Lockport Powerhouse Open House and Tours set for Sat., June 8, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 


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 get a firsthand view of this innovative and majestic facility.

Read more about the event



Latest News

Riverside Town Hall meeting with Congressman Jesús "Chuy" García features overview of MWRD projects

MWRD Commissioner Eira L. Corral Sepúlveda, Congressman Jesús "Chuy" García and State Representative Abdelnasser Rashid held a Town Hall meeting for the 4th Congressional District in the Village of Riverside in conjunction with Village President Doug Pollock and Riverside Township Supervisor Vera Wilton on Feb. 26 at L.J. Hauser Junior High School. 

Commissioner Sepúlveda with Congressman Chuy Garcia

The MWRD has committed to nearly 250 stormwater management projects to help alleviate flooding throughout Cook County, with many standout projects on prominent display in Riverside. The MWRD and Riverside recently agreed on plans to transform a commuter lot mitigates flooding and protects local water quality in the nearby Des Plaines River. Thanks to a new permeable surface funded by the partners, the lot will be able to capture 97,000 gallons of water each time it rains. 

The new green parking lot, known as Commuter Lot # 8 south of the BNSF tracks off Quincy Street, is planned for construction later this year. It is the second green parking lot project that the MWRD has collaborated on with the Village of Riverside.


In 2019, MWRD, Riverside and Metra officials completed Metra Commuter Lot #1, a green parking lot surface that provides more than 252,000 gallons of stormwater storage per rain event. The permeable parking lot and bioretention areas at Bloomingbank Road and Barrypoint Road reduce the load on the combined sewer system and help alleviate flooding within the project area.

The MWRD also helped fund the construction of a 24-inch storm sewer outlet to the Des Plaines River and restricted flow from the storm sewers of the railroad drainage area to the existing combined sewer in Riverside. These projects vary in scope and appearance, but they all take on the same significance in protecting Riverside from flooding and improving area water quality directly impacting the Des Plaines River. 

Stormwater Projects in 4th Congressional District Map

Read more about the project

MWRD participates in 37th and 21st Ward Town Halls

On Feb. 22, Alderman Emma Mitts, 37th Ward, hosted the MWRD and Chicago Department of Water Management for an important discussion about stormwater management and flood mitigation. Residents were encouraged to utilize green infrastructure on their properties and to sign up for Overflow Action Alerts. This message reminds residents to reduce their use of water whenever heavy rain is predicted.

Commissioner Garcia addresses Town Hall meeting
Commissioner Spyropoulos addresses Town Hall


Participants included MWRD Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia and Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos, Cook County Commissioner Tara Stamps and the Northwest Austin Council. 

21st Ward Alderman Ronnie Mosley held a monthly Town Hall on Feb. 24 at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library. MWRD President Kari K. Steele, and Dr. Catherine O’Connor, director of engineering, spoke with residents about flood prevention and community resilience. 

Dr. Catherine O'Connor addresses Town Hall meeting

They were joined by staff from the Chicago Department of Water Management in highlighting the array of programs available to assist our constituents when challenges arise. 

Vice President Patricia Teresa Flynn and Commissioner Daniel Pogorzelski also engaged residents about safeguarding our communities and waterways and encouraged residents to review the MWRD's Green Neighbor Guide for tips on how to reduce stormwater.


MWRD President Kari K. Steele, Commissioners welcome Ambassador of Denmark Jesper Møller Sørensen and Consul General Jesper Køks Andersen to Stickney WRP for workshop collaboration

In a collaborative effort to advance wastewater management and stormwater solutions, Ambassador of Denmark Jesper Møller Sørensen, Denmark Consul General and Head of the Danish Water Technology Alliance Jesper Køks Andersen, facilitated a dynamic learning exchange in conjunction with the MWRD. MWRD President Kari K. Steele, commissioners and staff along with Danish companies converged at the MWRD’s Stickney Water Reclamation Plant on Feb. 20.

This workshop marks a pivotal moment in fortifying the clean water agenda in both the United States and Denmark. The agenda featured a robust lineup aimed at fostering innovation and collaboration in wastewater management and energy efficiency. 

Read more about the workshop

Denmark Ambassador Sorensen


MWRD accepting applications for Stickney Water Reclamation Plant Community Partnership Council

The MWRD is excited to announce the launch of the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) Community Partnership Council (CPC), an initiative born from the strategic vision outlined in the MWRD’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan. With a focus on community engagement and the pursuit of expanded partnership opportunities, the MWRD is actively seeking applicants to contribute to this vital endeavor.

The primary objective of the Stickney CPC is to establish a robust connection between the Stickney WRP and the surrounding community, ensuring that the MWRD remains a responsive neighbor and an inclusive partner in progress. Comprised of 10-15 dedicated members, the CPC will function as a conduit for open, two-way communication between the community and the MWRD, fostering collaborative and thoughtful input from a partner perspective on MWRD’s projects and programs. Council members will serve a minimum two-year term, participating in quarterly meetings. The application process is open and closes on March 30, 2024.


The Stickney CPC seeks representation from various community sectors, including community-based organizations, schools, businesses, health care, and the general public. This diverse composition ensures a well-rounded and inclusive reflection of the community’s perspectives and needs.

The Calumet Community Partnership Council has been meeting for more than a year. Esteemed members from Chicago's South Side and the surrounding southern suburbs gather regularly for substantive discussions and initiatives aimed at tackling key challenges affecting this area of the county. 

Read more information on how to apply


National Science Foundation supports MWRD innovation via Great Lakes ReNEW Initiative led by Current, Argonne, University of Chicago

A generous investment from the U.S. National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engine Program will support the critical work of the MWRD and other Midwest water utilities due to the collective efforts of water research partners at Current, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago and other research institutions and universities. 

The NSF has pledged to award up to $160 million over 10 years to Current, the Chicago-based water innovation hub, and local research partners that have launched a six-state collaboration known as the Great Lakes ReNEW Initiative. The initiative sets out to join the MWRD and other utilities in efforts to promote sustainable water systems and water-focused technology. 

ReNEW was one of 10 groups from across the United States to be chosen as an NSF Engine, representing up to $1.6 billion, according to Current. It was selected from 16 finalists, 188 invited proposals, and more than 700 initial submissions. 

Among the research endeavors, the partners aim to help turn waste into opportunity by figuring out how to remove forever chemicals from the wastewater stream to protect the environment and uplift the economy. 

President Steele at NSP Awards
MWRD President Kari K. Steele is seated second from left 


Governor JB Pritzker
Governor JB Pritzker

Read more about the initiative

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley visits flood control project in Park Ridge

MWRD Senior Civil Engineer and Project Manager Pedro Ortiz (from left) and Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia met with U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, Park Ridge Mayor Marty Maloney, Maine Township Supervisor Karen Dimond and Maine Township Highway Commissioner Ed Beauvais to visit part of an ambitious flood control project on Farmers and Prairie Creeks. 

At the West Pond of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, we discussed how this comprehensive project can potentially reduce flooding for more than 100 structures and arterial roads, alleviate public health and safety concerns and improve quality of life through much needed flood storage and conveyance improvements along the creeks. 

We appreciate Rep. Quigley’s leadership, support and resolve to help us appropriate the critical resources to mitigate flooding, address stormwater and sewer construction and stabilize our streambanks and waterways, and we thank our local partners for their continued collaboration!


U.S. Representative Mike Quigley


West Pond Park Ridge

Read more about the project

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten joins MWRD leadership, staff for Lyons Township meeting

Leadership and staff with the MWRD provided Rep. Casten, Lyons Township officials and local leaders with an update on the latest MWRD initiatives to mitigate flooding. 

The event covered the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, stormwater management projects that the MWRD has funded to mitigate area flooding, the Stickney Community Partnership Council, Watershed Management Ordinance and additional MWRD programs.

U.S. Representative Sean Casten


Lyons Township staff

In less than a decade since receiving authority to work on local stormwater management projects, the MWRD has invested in 23 stormwater management projects in Lyons Township. 

These projects that are either completed or in various stages of development/construction represent a total investment of more than $38.3 million and will benefit an estimated 696 homes, businesses and structures throughout Lyons Township communities.

Read more information

MWRD celebrates Black History Month with Pan-African Flag raising, tribute to African Americans and the Arts

The MWRD celebrated Black History Month throughout February to highlight our commitment to diversity, to support the Black community and to honor the achievements of African Americans. 

Commissioners celebrate Black History Month with flag raising


The fifth annual raising of the Pan-African flag took place at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie Street, on Feb. 1 while at the same time, all seven MWRD water reclamation plants raised the flag. An evening event held on Feb. 15 focused on the national theme of "African Americans and the Arts" and featured musical and oratory performances by Theophilus Reed and a presentation by environmental artist Mechiya Jamison. To inspire students, the MWRD participated in two educational opportunities at the Museum of Science and Industry: Black Creativity Career Showcase and the Black Creativity Junior Science Café. Both of these events engaged thousands of students to educate them about STEM careers and shed light on the important work of the MWRD to protect the region’s water environment.

 Read more about the event

Student event at the Museum of Science and Industry


Plant staff raise the flag for Black History Month
Black History Month Celebration Theophilus Reed and Commissioners


Commissioners celebrate Black History Month

MWRD in the News

"The world's largest wastewater treatment plant is in Stickney, Ill," ABC 7 Chicago




The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago's wastewater treatment plant in Stickney, Ill. is the world's largest wastewater treatment plant, serving over 2.4 million people in Chicago and 46 suburban communities. 

The massive facility has been the world's largest wastewater facility since it opened in 1930, cleaning an average of 700 million gallons of water per day. In months like January and February, however, when melted snow and rain can add to the wastewater component, or in other rainy months during the summer, the facility can treat up to 1.44 billion gallons per day.

 Watch the program 


“GreenSense Show: An American Success Story," WBBM Radio 

Kevin Fitzpatrick, MWRD Assistant Director of Engineering, describes how the TARP "Deep Tunnel" project is an engineering marvel and is being replicated in other cities around the world to help the environment, control flooding, and decrease pollution. He also discusses the operating cost over the past several decades, state-of-the-art technology used, his own involvement, and more. 

The Green Sense Radio Show has been on the air since 2010 and is one of the first programs focused on covering the topic of sustainability. Each week they sit down with scientists, business leaders, activists, or entrepreneurs to learn more about how they shape a sustainable future.

Listen to the program 



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

Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, near the Santa Fe Railroad bridge in Lemont

A line of workers is seen moving material during the construction of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, near the Santa Fe Railroad bridge in Lemont, looking upstream from southeast wall on November 20, 1899.  

March 2024 Calendar

A busy bee explores beardtongue flowers in the rain gardens along Pacific Ave. in Franklin Park, where the MWRD contributed to rain gardens that alleviate flooding in the community. Besides absorbing water, the beardtongue flowers attract pollinators and curious hummingbirds. 

A bee explores beardtongue flowers in the rain gardens along Pacific Ave. in Franklin Park

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: