The MWRD strives to reach beyond our walls to work with like-minded agencies, municipalities and others to help fulfill our mission of protecting the waterways, the environment and the health of Cook County residents. We engage in strategic partnerships to better understand our environment while working to protect and improve it.

The American Water Works Association is an international, nonprofit, scientific and educational society dedicated to providing total water solutions assuring the effective management of water. Founded in 1881, the Association is the largest organization of water supply professionals in the world. 

Their membership includes over 4,300 utilities that supply roughly 80 percent of the nation’s drinking water and treat almost half of the nation’s wastewater. Our 51,000 total members represent the full spectrum of the water community: public water and wastewater systems, environmental advocates, scientists, academicians, and others who hold a genuine interest in water, our most important resource. 

AWWA also takes great pride in helping establish two preeminent organizations dedicated to safe water, the Water Research Foundation in 1966 and Water For People in 1991. AWWA unites the diverse water community to advance public health, safety, the economy, and the environment.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The MWRD and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are examining water quality through a seven-year study that began in 2014. The Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS) Microbiome Study examines the complex microbial communities in the CAWS using advanced analytical and computational tools to explore what microorganisms exist, where they came from and what they are doing. Early results indicate that Chicago area waterways have healthy and diverse microbial communities. Like many other river systems, the communities vary in their composition based on location and a variety of other factors.

To learn more about our collaboration, click here. 

For additional information:


The Calumet Collaborative catalyzes innovative partnerships between Illinois and Indiana community, government, business and nonprofit stakeholders to advance a thriving Calumet region. Spanning southeast Chicago, south Cook County and northwest Indiana, the bi-state Calumet region boasts proud and diverse communities, important natural ecosystems, and a powerful industrial heritage. As the region builds on these assets toward a vibrant future for people, wildlife and businesses, the Calumet Collaborative is fostering a new level of collaboration in sustainable development.

This organization provides the exchange of water quality knowledge and experiences among its members and the public while fostering a greater awareness of water quality achievements and challenges. MWRD staff participate and engage in numerous committees.

The Chicago Bungalow Association equips homeowners with energy efficiency programs and educational resources to maintain, preserve, and adapt their Chicago bungalows and vintage homes, thereby strengthening the neighborhoods they anchor.

The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership combines federal and philanthropic resources to broaden the reach and impact of workforce development services for both employers and job seekers in Cook County.

The Chicago Region Trees Initiative (CRTI) is a partnership for coordinated action on key issues facing trees. It is the largest such initiative in the country, with leading organizations and agencies from across the seven-county metropolitan region working together. CRTI is leveraging funding, knowledge, skills, and expertise to build a healthier, more diverse regional forest. The MWRD participates in activities of the CRTI and distributes free oak saplings to restore Cook County’s urban forest canopy


We are a regional alliance leading strategy to preserve, improve, and expand nature and quality of life. By connecting leaders in conservation, health, business, science, and beyond, we tackle challenging issues to ensure a resilient region. Building on a 20-year legacy of collaboration, our broad alliance of member organizations advance work in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. We are… diverse voices. green vision. united region.



The Chicago Department of Water Management delivers nearly 1 billion gallons of drinking water to residents of Chicago and 125 suburbs daily. They also remove wastewater and storm runoff through Chicago’s sewer system. Their mission is to efficiently provide the highest quality drinking water to the Chicago region while protecting our most precious natural resource - Lake Michigan.

Chicago’s legacy lead service lines affect nearly 400,000 primarily single-family and two-flat residents. While Chicago’s drinking water is in full compliance with all federal, state, and industry standards, the City is committed to begin lead service line removal in and responsible, sustainable and equitable manner. They created the Lead Service Line Replacement Program to provide a variety of resources to residents who wish to replace their lead service lines.


The MWRD is a proud partner of Communities In Schools of Chicago (CIS of Chicago), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting high school graduation in the city. Through participation in community events, classroom presentations, and ongoing CIS training, the MWRD community education team is committed to inspiring Chicagoland students to reach for success.

If you are interested in the MWRD connecting with your students and community via our virtual programming opportunities that promote protecting the water environment and introducing careers in water, please email

Current is a non-profit based in Chicago, launched in 2016 as a partnership of the City of Chicago, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and World Business Chicago. Current leverages Chicago’s world-class utilities, research institutions, industries and innovation community for global environmental and economic impact. Current delivers advanced research and market-driven innovations to enhance water resources, build resilience and drive sustainable economic growth by bridging gaps in water technology commercialization. The MWRD serves on the Board of Current and partners on a variety of projects.

River LabRiver Lab is a free STEM curriculum for high school students, developed by Current with support from the Walder Foundation. High school students will dive into this water-focused virtual field trip where they will be introduced to water quality parameters, discover the Chicago River, and explore real science data.

The DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup (DRSCW) formed in 2005 in response to concerns about TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads) being set for the East & West Branches of the DuPage River and Salt Creek. The DRSCW seeks to implement targeted watershed activities that resolve priority waterway problems efficiently and cost effectively. The mission of the group is to bring together a diverse coalition of stakeholders to work together to preserve and enhance water quality and stream resource quality in the East Branch DuPage River, West Branch DuPage River, Salt Creek, and their tributaries.  

Rock salt (sodium chloride) and salt runoff are harmful to wildlife, insects, bodies of water and soil along roadways and sidewalks. Runoff from rain, melted snow and ice sprayed by vehicles travel onto vegetation, into the soil and groundwater, through storm drains and into surface waters. Chloride in surface waters can be toxic to aquatic life, including fish, insects, amphibians and macroinvertebrates, which live in water for all or part of their lives and are a significant part of the food chain for fish and birds. The MWRD is working with the Workgroup to implement best management practices.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County, with nearly 70,000 acres, is the oldest and largest forest preserve district in the United States. It receives an estimated 62 million visits each year, providing an escape into a world teeming with wildlife and rich with outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities. Within its boundaries are rare habitats that offer plant and animal diversity on par with the rainforests of the world. Its mission is to acquire, restore and manage lands for the purpose of protecting and preserving public open space with its natural wonders, significant prairies, forests, wetlands, rivers, streams, and other landscapes with all of its associated wildlife, in a natural state for the education, pleasure and recreation of the public now and in the future.


The Fulton County Farm Bureau delivers important information to its members about the agriculture issues that face Fulton County farmers and their families. MWRD staff participate and engage in numerous research and promotional activities. Click here for more information about the Fulton County Farm Bureau and our Nutrient Reduction Research.

Illinois Central College engages crop studies with the MWRD which owns 14,000 Fulton County acres, of which 5,000 are farmed. The College is studying interseeding of cover crops.

The mission of the Illinois EPA is to safeguard environmental quality consistent with the social and economic needs of the State to protect health, welfare, property and the quality of life. Illinois EPA works to safeguard the state’s natural resources from pollution to provide a healthy environment for its citizens. By partnering with businesses, local governments and citizens, Illinois EPA is dedicated to continued protection of the air we breathe and our water and land resources. MWRD staff participate and engage in numerous committees.

The Illinois Farm Bureau provides education and information to help farmers while supporting legislation regarding about agricultural issues. Founded by farmers as the Illinois Agricultural Association, one of the first activities of the new organization was to bring soil and crop specialists to each county to supply farmers with the latest agricultural research information and recommendations. More than 100 years later, IFB continues to carry out its mission to improve the economic well-being of agriculture and enrich the quality of farm family life. MWRD staff participate and engage in numerous research and promotional activities.


Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council provides funding for nutrient research and demonstrations.

The Illinois Water Environment Association is a community of dedicated professionals working to advance fundamental knowledge of our water environment. Its members are engineers, scientists, plant operators, and students. They work at wastewater treatment plants, engineering firms, and manufacturers of water treatment equipment. participate and engage in numerous committees to enhance and protect the Illinois water environment through education and collaboration. MWRD staff participate and engage in IWEA.

The missioner of the Lower Des Plaines Watershed Groups (LDPWG) is to  bring together a diverse coalition of stakeholders to work together to preserve and enhance water quality and stream resource quality in the Lower Des Plaines River and its tributaries. This group is developing Nutrient Assessment and Reduction Plans to assess site-specific needs and determine the optimal targeted approach to solving nutrient-related water quality issues. The MWRD participates in the LDPWG

The Lower DuPage River Watershed Coalition (LDRWC) provides local coordination to address water resource concerns based on science. Their analyses of habitat, biological and chemical data identifies stressors to aquatic life, and guides the organization’s ecologically and economically sound approach to restore stream health. The MWRD participates in the Coalition.


The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) is the nation’s recognized leader in legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy on the full spectrum of clean water issues, as well as a top technical resource for water management, sustainability and ecosystem protection interests. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. The Association's unique and growing network strengthens the advocacy voice for all member utilities, and ensures they have the tools necessary to provide affordable and sustainable clean water for all. The MWRD serves on numerous NACWA committees and participates in educational and promotional initiatives.


The mission of the North Branch Watershed Workgroup (NBWW) is to bring together a diverse coalition of stakeholders to work to improve water quality in the North Branch of the Chicago River watershed, in a cost-effective manner to meet Illinois Environmental Protection Agency National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements. The NBWW is committed to an approach for attaining water quality standards that focuses on stakeholder involvement, monitoring, and locally led decision-making

based on sound science. The MWRD is a member of the Workgroup.

North River Commission is the nonprofit community and economic development corporation for the northwest side of Chicago, from the Chicago River to Cicero and Addison to Devon. Founded in 1962 by concerned residents and neighborhood institutions, North River Commission unites over 100 civic associations, businesses, schools, institutions and places of worship.

Its mission is to improve the quality of life in our community by developing affordable housing, quality education, arts & cultural endeavors, open spaces, and thriving neighborhood businesses.

Founded by John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club works to protect communities, conserve wild places, and explore nature. The Chicago Sierra Club is 7,500 members strong. Their territory stretches south from the Lake County line to the Indiana border, west to part of La Grange, and north through Niles and Skokie.

Space to Grow transforms Chicago schoolyards into beautiful and functional spaces to play, learn, garden and be outside. The schoolyards also use special design elements to help reduce neighborhood flooding. Schoolyard transformations prioritize physical activity, outdoor learning and community engagement. The green schoolyards incorporate landscape features that capture a significant amount of rainfall, helping keep the city’s water resources clean and resulting in less neighborhood flooding. It’s a win for students, neighborhoods and our city’s environment. The MWRD, City of Chicago Department of Water Management, Chicago Public Schools, Openlands and Healthy Schools are project partners.


The MWRD is working with the United States Geological Survey, Illinois Water Science Center to install, operate, maintain, and report data from a real-time continuous water quality monitoring station in the Des Plaines River. The USGS Central Midwest Water Science Center collects, analyzes and disseminates the impartial hydrologic data and information needed to wisely and effectively manage water resources in Illinois. Our scientific research affects current issues ranging from flood and drought hazards to the impact and control of invasive species.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is charged by our state to enhance the lives of citizens in Illinois, across the nation and around the world through our leadership in learning, discovery, engagement and economic development. MWRD scientists with University of Illinois on numerous research projects, including nutrient research.

The US Water Alliance is dedicated to building a sustainable water future for all. We accelerate the adoption of one water strategies—innovative, inclusive, and integrated approaches to water stewardship. The MWRD participates in educational opportunities and partners in the Value of Water Campaign educational initiatives.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 35,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. Since 1928, WEF and its members have protected public health and the environment. As a global water sector leader, our mission is to connect water professionals; enrich the expertise of water professionals; increase the awareness of the impact and value of water; and provide a platform for water sector innovation.

WEF and its global network of members and Member Associations provide water quality professionals around the world with the latest in water quality education, training, and business opportunities. WEF’s diverse membership includes scientists, engineers, regulators, academics, utility managers, plant operators, and other professionals. WEF uses this collective knowledge to further a shared goal of improving water quality around the world. Dozens of MWRD staff members are WEF members. WEF produces WEFTEC, the largest conference of its kind in North America and offers water quality professionals from around the world with the best water quality education and training available today. Also recognized as the largest annual water quality exhibition in the world, the expansive show floor provides unparalleled access to the most cutting-edge technologies in the field; serves as a forum for domestic and international business opportunities; and promotes invaluable peer-to-peer networking.  MWRD staff lead participate in presentations, arrange tours, help produce the Student and Young Professional’s Water Palooza community education and rain garden construction activities as part of WEFTEC.