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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

President Steele at Denmark Conference
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) President Kari K. Steele showcased the MWRD’s commitment to sustainable water management practices during her participation in an international 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 the exchange of ideas and best practices focusing on key concerns now and in the future such as climate change, impacts on 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 run off, biosolids, PFAS (Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), microplastics, cyber security in the water sector and energy efficiency.

In addition to President Steele’s presentation on MWRD’s responsibilities and various roundtables discussions on water issues, there was a robust daily itinerary. Outside of the conference rooms, Steele visited three water treatment plants and environmental facilities in four cities throughout Denmark.

President Steele expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to strengthen ties with Danish officials and contribute to the global dialogue on water infrastructure. "I am honored to have had the opportunity to expand our relationship with Danish officials and discuss water infrastructure priorities," said President Steele. "It was a privilege to collaborate on technical and scientific ideas that work towards preserving our most valued resource, water, and I look forward to future collaborations to exchange knowledge."

As a result of the numerous engagements, presentations and evaluations, President Steele observed that Danish values are similar to Illinois values of maintaining a clean water environment, water conservation and recycling. President Steele noted that the Danish teach climate change to everyone at a young age. 

At home in the U.S., President Steele continues her efforts to bring awareness to the importance of protecting our most valued water resource (Lake Michigan). Her outreach to communities across Cook County and with youth interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focuses on current efforts to protect our water environment for future generations. 

Delegation participants included subject matter experts from the California Department of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, Water Environment Federation, California Association of Sanitation Agencies, Berkeley Lab and California Municipal Utilities Association. A special thank you Anne-Louis Fregerslev Christenson, Special Advisor for Water Embassy of Denmark in Washington, D.C. and Jesper Koks Andersen, Consul General & Head of Water – Consulate General of Denmark in Chicago for organizing and facilitating an incredibly remarkable visit and water experience. 

This international engagement follows the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the MWRD, the Danish Water Technology Alliance Authority represented by the Consulate General of Denmark in Chicago, and Aarhus Vand of Denmark. The collaborative efforts date back to 2015 when the knowledge exchange program was initiated.

President Steele at Denmark Conference

The MOU signifies a commitment to ongoing cooperation and knowledge-sharing, with MWRD staff previously participating in fact-finding exchange programs in Denmark. In reciprocation, Aarhus Vand staff engaged in a knowledge exchange opportunity at MWRD's Hanover Park Water Reclamation Plant.  The shared experiences included notable achievements in energy neutrality through optimization, blower efficiency, combined heat and power systems, and advanced control systems, ultimately contributing to the MWRD's journey to becoming energy neutral.

President Steele noted that “It is important that we continue to maintain and build relationships with water industry leaders and wastewater treatment plant facilities around the world.” 

As climate change and infrastructure improvements are becoming more and more relevant in how we treat wastewater and manage stormwater, local and international communications are critical to maintaining our important mission of achieving the highest standards of excellence in managing water as a vital resource, not only in Cook County but around the world. 

President Steele at Denmark Conference with group


The MWRD remains at the forefront of water innovation, dedicated to safeguarding water resources for the benefit of current and future generations. 

Press Release
Events, Stormwater

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.


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