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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 September 7 and 21;
October 5 and 19


The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, September 7, Thursday, September 21, Thursday, October 5 and Thursday, October 19. Public comments may be made in person at person at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 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.

American Society of Civil Engineers hosts "Tunnel Vision" webinar on Sept. 7 at noon featuring TARP 

On Sept. 7 at noon, MWRD Assistant Director of Engineering Kevin Fitzpatrick will be giving a presentation on one of the largest civil engineering projects on earth, our Deep Tunnel, aka Tunnel and Reservoir Plan. Register:

MWRD's monthly Virtual Tour to be held Tuesday, September 19 at 2 p.m. 

Join the MWRD on a virtual tour at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19.

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. 

Latinx Heritage Month Business Reception set for Sept. 25 

On Monday, September 25 from 4:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., please join the MWRD at the 2023 Latinx Heritage Month Business Reception featuring keynote speaker Martin Cabrera, Founder & CEO, Cabrera Capital. This presentation will be followed by a panel discussion “How to Do Business with the MWRD.” This event will be held at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie, Chicago, IL. Register at

MWRD Diverse Business Summit set for Oct. 17


Join the MWRD for a Business Summit on Tuesday, October 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kennedy-King College, 740 W. 63rd Street, Building U, Chicago. 

MWRD to host Latinx Stewardship Day on Oct. 21 

On Saturday, October 21 from 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., the MWRD will host a Stewardship Day and Water Walk at Salt Creek in Possum Hollow Woods, W. 31st Street, west of S. LaGrange Road. This event will cover invasive species identification, gardening tips and techniques, and a water walk that will feature improvements made by the MWRD to the Possum Hollow Woods site. Register here:

11th Annual Sustainability Summit set for November 7 at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center 

The MWRD's 11th Annual Sustainability Summit is set for Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center, 11555 South Stony Island Avenue, Chicago. Parking is available.

This summit serves as a pivotal platform to educate the public on the vital initiatives undertaken by the MWRD, particularly in the realm of stormwater management and best practices. The public will embark on a rich learning journey centered around sustainability and the safeguarding of our precious water resources. The event will also celebrate excellence in sustainable landscaping and resource recovery, epitomizing the very best in these domains. The summit will have an impressive lineup of speakers who will share their insights and expertise. 

Registration and light refreshments start at 9 a.m., and the program will begin at 10:00 a.m.  Register here.

Latest News

MWRD President Kari K. Steele sworn in by Mayor Brandon Johnson to serve on Public Building Commission of Chicago


The Public Building Commission of Chicago (PBC) has added a new member. Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) President Kari K. Steele was selected by the MWRD Board of Commissioners to serve as its representative on the PBC. She attended her first meeting on August 1, 2023.

MWRD commends President Biden’s disaster declaration for June 29 - July 2 flooding


On August 15, 2023, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Illinois and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms and flooding from June 29 to July 2, 2023. The President’s action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in Cook County.

The MWRD Board of Commissioners and staff express our gratitude to President Biden for addressing Cook County's appeal for federal assistance. This response ensures that residents of Chicago's West and South sides, Berwyn, Cicero, and all those affected by the storms in July will have access to federal aid and resources to assist in their recovery from the impact of the storm.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can apply for assistance at, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA App.

MWRD, partners cut ribbon on Addison Creek Reservoir, Bellwood

The MWRD and partners cut the ribbon on the first of two major projects that will provide flood control benefits for six communities in the west suburbs along Addison Creek: City of Northlake and Villages of Bellwood, Broadview, Melrose Park, Stone Park and Westchester.

The 600-acre-foot Addison Creek Reservoir can hold up to 200 million gallons of storage capacity and will connect with the Addison Creek Channel.

The reservoir, along with the Addison Creek Channel improvements, will reduce overbank flooding to approximately 2,200 structures along the creek from Northlake to Broadview, including 1,700 structures that will be removed from the flood plain. The reservoir will provide $116 million in flood benefits. The project received $5 million in funds from the Cook County Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program. Read more about the project at

Fitch reaffirms MWRD’s AAA rating, stable financial outlook; Moody upgrades rating to Aa1

A report from Fitch Ratings has again affirmed the MWRD's AAA credit rating for responsible financial stewardship as it works to protect the regional water environment. The Aug. 4 report from Fitch highlighted the MWRD’s reliable revenue stream, lower operating cost burdens and improvements in debt structuring to fund capital projects and meet the MWRD’s pension and retirement obligations. Within days of the Fitch report, Moody’s Investor Services announced it had upgraded the MWRD’s credit rating to Aa1. Read more at

Patent technology removes dissolved pollutants from wastewater through algae harvesting 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recognized the MWRD for its ability to remove dissolved solids in wastewater as part of an algae reactor that retired MWRD Assistant Director of Monitoring and Research Tom Kunetz (on the left) and MWRD Principal Environmental Scientist Kuldip Kumar developed with partners. On the right: The MWRD Board of Commissioners displays the patent during a recent Board meeting.


An official United States patent has been issued to the MWRD and its partners at Iowa State University Research Foundation for groundbreaking 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.

 Read more here:

The MWRD is accepting pre-applications from local government organizations for the Green Infrastructure Partnership Program

The MWRD partners with local government organizations to help pay for the construction of green infrastructure.

Click here to submit a pre-application form by December 31, 2023

Pre-Applications are mandatory to apply and must be on file by the deadline. Our team will review your Pre-Application Form and contact you with any questions and feedback. A tracking number will be assigned to reference your project. For more information contact Holly Sauter, Principal Civil Engineer, at or call 312-286-6023.

The MWRD seeks applicants for Excellence in Sustainable Landscaping awards

The MWRD is accepting applications from Cook County individuals and organizations for its 2023 Sustainable Landscaping Awards until September 15. The awards recognize the activities and innovations from entities such as cities and villages, schools, houses of worship, businesses and others. Qualifications for the Sustainable Landscaping award may be demonstrated through the innovative use of green infrastructure, capital investment (private and public), and public education.

Award categories include:

  • Innovative use of GI
  • Education of residents to promote use of GI on private property
  • Best overall GI installation at a private site
  • Best overall GI installation at a public site.


Activities completed after January 1, 2018, are eligible for an award, and an individual or organization is eligible once every five years. Submittals should include figures, illustrations, a narrative, and photos to help further explain the efforts. 

Applications may be submitted at

If you have difficulties using the electronic form, please submit application packages by September 15, 2023, to

Awards will be presented at the MWRD’s 11th annual Sustainability Summit to be held November 7 at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center. This event is open to the public. Click here to register for the Sustainability Summit. 

To learn more about previous MWRD Sustainability Summit events and award winners, visit Learn more here.

Calumet Water Reclamation Plant Partnership Council meets at Calumet Park Beach

Members of our Calumet Water Reclamation Plant Community Partnership Council and staff joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District for a special outing at Calumet Park Beach to learn about the Corps' ecosystem restoration projects. Council members brought their families to have fun and learn too!

International collaboration spurs MWRD-Northwestern University study to address contaminants in wastewater

A new groundbreaking study housed at a MWRD water reclamation plant (WRP) has the potential to filter unwanted pollutants from the wastewater treatment process. These pollutants, known as trace organic contaminants, pose a complex challenge to utilities like the MWRD trying to detect and remove unwanted chemicals like dissolved drugs and forever chemicals such as per- and polyfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS). But scientists with the MWRD and Northwestern University professors and graduate students are collaborating to address the issue at the O’Brien WRP in Skokie. Read more here.


Sign up for Overflow Action Alert text messages


Sign up to receive Overflow Action Alert text messages at this link. When we call 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.

Learn more at

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 in four colors for residents of Cook County. These 55 gallons barrels are doubly green as they are repurposed. Currently, the MWRD has a temporary discount for rain barrels — $21.50 each and $10.75 for people over age 65. Limited to two barrels. Order yours online at

Milkweed Seeds

Monarch butterflies are on the verge of extinction. Take our online pledge to help save them!

Milkweed is the only food the butterflies will eat, and the plants serve the dual purpose of collecting stormwater.

Visit this link to take the pledge:

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

Please 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 

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


Historical Photo of the Month


Historical Photo: A view to the north of the H. Channon Company building during construction of the Randolph Street bridge at the South Branch of the Chicago River on October 1, 1901. The building's foundation was exposed as part of the construction of the east bridge abutment.

September 2023 Calendar

Caption: A heron moves slyly in the waters of the Buffalo Creek Reservoir where the MWRD increased storage capacity to alleviate flooding for downstream communities in Buffalo Grove while at the same time improving public recreation amenities at Buffalo Creek in the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

While supplies last, please contact for a 2023 wall calendar.

Awards and Announcements

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: