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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

This week is national United for Infrastructure Week, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is releasing a new video highlighting its commitment to addressing wastewa­ter treatment, odor control measures and infrastructure investments to improve quality of life for its neighbors.

The video, featuring MWRD Commissioner Marceli­no Garcia, focuses on the MWRD’s many initiatives to manage odors that arise during the natural biological process to treat wastewater at the Stickney Water Rec­lamation Plant (WRP), one of the world’s largest waste­water treatment facilities. The video is in both Eng­lish and Spanish and can be viewed on the MWRD’s YouTube Channels. 
Watch the Spanish video
Watch the English video

“We have made innovative infrastructure investments at our water reclamation plants to meet our goals of serving as a responsible neighbor,” said Commissioner Garcia. “It is important that we keep an open line of communication with our neighbors who we serve. If you smell something or see illegal dumping in our wa­ter environment or sewers, blocked waterways or other incidents disrupting our water resources, please let us know by calling 1-800-332-3867, visit or download our app. Your report can help us improve our work.”

“United for Infrastructure 2021: A Week to Champion America’s Infrastructure” is held nationally, and this year it is May 10 through May 14. Now in its ninth year, United for Infrastructure brings diverse stake­holders together to seek infrastructure reform by call­ing the nation’s leaders to bold action. It also raises awareness for these key systems that each day play a role in the lives of Americans, the economy, jobs, public health and national security. The MWRD participates along with other water utilities, businesses, labor or­ganizations and elected officials to acknowledge how important infrastructure is in protecting the region’s water environment. Each day, the MWRD’s facilities treat wastewater for Chicago and 128 suburban mu­nicipalities, while also serving as the regional authority for stormwater management for Cook County.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released its Report Card for America’s Infra­structure, and gave the nation’s infrastructure an over­all grade of C-. The ASCE ranked 17 categories, from roads and bridges to transit and wastewater systems, and 11 of those categories received Ds. 

The MWRD’s seven WRPs provide critical services that protect the environment and public health by treating water from homes and businesses in the Chi­cago region. The MWRD constructed the WRPs at low elevations near waterways to convey water before many of the surrounding communities were estab­lished around them. In time, as more neighbors moved in, the MWRD has sought to create productive land use opportunities by leasing adjoining land to local park districts for nominal fees. These parks provide athletic fields, open space, and a natural setting for our neighbors. Near other WRPs, the MWRD has also promoted waterway access by designating land to build trails.

With 500 billion gallons of water to manage each year, there can be unpredictable flows of water and accom­panying odors that enter these facilities. That is why odor control is a primary focal point for the MWRD.

“Reducing odors from the wastewater treatment pro­cess is one of our top priorities,” said MWRD Presi­dent Kari K. Steele. “We have made substantial infra­structure investments in our facilities and staff to help address these matters, and United for Infrastructure Week is an ideal time to highlight why these invest­ments can improve our technology and lead to more protection for our environment and the public health.

At the Stickney WRP, the MWRD’s upgrades include odor monitoring controls, misting systems, chemical dosing, and four new odor control projects that repre­sent a total investment of $228 million. The MWRD is also installing new odor control systems at its Cal­umet, Hanover Park, and Egan WRPs. The MWRD has also trained odor patrol technicians who monitor improvements and help determine where more work is required. MWRD staff routinely monitors for odors at dozens of locations at the WRPs.

These calls to action made during United for Infra­structure Week are generating renewed urgency. On April 29, the U.S. Senate passed a package of waste­water, stormwater, drinking water and water reuse in­frastructure funding by a a vote of 89-2. The Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, S. 914, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, seeks to reauthorize many core federal water infrastructure funding programs and helps introduce several new pro­grams that can help communities address pressing wa­ter infrastructure challenges.

“We thank our federal partners and the Illinois con­gressional delegation for striving to prioritize water infrastructure funds,” said MWRD Commissioner Josina Morita. “This support and additional resources will help us treat wastewater, recover resources, manage stormwater and the effects of climate change, protect our water environment and water resources, address odor control measures and introduce energy efficiency upgrades that improve our planet.”

Odor Control Video.pdf

Press Release

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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