FOIA & PI

What is FOIA ?

The Freedom of Information Act provides the public access to a government agency's records.

All are encouraged to search our website prior to submitting a request as the information sought may already be accessible on our website.

Requests must be specific. For example, please list RFQ numbers, contract numbers or any other details for the requested documents in the Body of the mail.

 

What is a Permit Inquiry (PI)?

A copy of an issued sewer or stormwater permit from the District’s permit archives can be requested through a Permit Inquiry (PI).  To submit a PI, please click on the PI icon above and complete the form.  Please be aware that the MWRD does not issue sewer permits within the City of Chicago unless a direct connection is made to an MWRD intercepting sewer or other facility.  Contact the City’s Department of Water Management for such requests.

Requests made for a commercial purpose are allowed a longer response time under the Freedom of Information Act.

What is a commercial request?

According to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act:

“’Commercial purpose’ means the use of any part of a public record or records, or information derived from public records, in any form for sale, resale, or solicitation or advertisement for sales or services. For purposes of this definition, requests made by news media and non-profit, scientific, or academic organizations shall not be considered to be made for a "commercial purpose" when the principal purpose of the request is (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events, (ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public, or (iii) for the purpose of academic, scientific, or public research or education.”

What is the response time for a commercial request?

According to section 3.1 of FOIA:

“A public body shall respond to a request for records to be used for a commercial purpose within 21 working days after receipt. The response shall (i) provide to the requester an estimate of the time required by the public body to provide the records requested and an estimate of the fees to be charged, which the public body may require the person to pay in full before copying the requested documents, (ii) deny the request pursuant to one or more of the exemptions set out in this Act, (iii) notify the requester that the request is unduly burdensome and extend an opportunity to the requester to attempt to reduce the request to manageable proportions, or (iv) provide the records requested. (b) Unless the records are exempt from disclosure, a public body shall comply with a request within a reasonable period considering the size and complexity of the request, and giving priority to records requested for non-commercial purposes. (c) It is a violation of this Act for a person to knowingly obtain a public record for a commercial purpose without disclosing that it is for a commercial purpose, if requested to do so by the public body.”

The MWRD provides most FOIA responses digitally (emailed to the requester). If paper copies are requested, the following fees have been outlined in the Freedom of Information Act:

  • The first 50 regular and legal-sized pages are copied free of charge. Additional regular and legal-sized pages will cost $0.15 per page. After the first 50 pages, a postage fee will also be included. The fee must be paid in advance of the request being processed.
  • Oversized pages (sewer maps, etc.): $1.00 per page. The first 50 oversized pages are not free of charge.
  • If fees are incurred, an invoice will be sent to the requester.
  • Payment of fees must be made by check or money order payable to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and sent to the attention of the Treasury Department, 100 E. Erie Street, Chicago, IL, 60611. Once the payment has been received, the materials will be immediately forwarded to the requester.
  • According to 5 ILCS 140/6 (c), “Documents shall be furnished without charge or at a reduced charge, as determined by the public body, if the person requesting the documents states the specific purpose for the request and indicates that a waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest. Waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest if the principal purpose of the request is to access and disseminate information regarding the health, safety and welfare or the legal rights of the general public and is not for the principal purpose of personal or commercial benefit.”

If a waiver or reduction of fees is requested, please do so in writing, explaining why the waiver is requested.

Recurrent requests are allowed a longer response time under the Freedom of Information Act.

What is a recurrent request?

According to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act:

“’Recurrent requester’, as used in Section 3.2 of this Act, means a person that, in the 12 months immediately preceding the request, has submitted to the same public body (i) a minimum of 50 requests for records, (ii) a minimum of 15 requests for records within a 30-day period, or (iii) a minimum of 7 requests for records within a 7-day period. For purposes of this definition, requests made by news media and non-profit, scientific, or academic organizations shall not be considered in calculating the number of requests made in the time periods in this definition when the principal purpose of the requests is (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events, (ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public, or (iii) for the purpose of academic, scientific, or public research or education.

For the purposes of this subsection (g), "request" means a written document (or oral request, if the public body chooses to honor oral requests) that is submitted to a public body via personal delivery, mail, telefax, electronic mail, or other means available to the public body and that identifies the particular public record the requester seeks. One request may identify multiple records to be inspected or copied.”

What is the response time for a recurrent request?

According to section 3.2 of FOIA:

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of this Act to the contrary, a public body shall respond to a request from a recurrent requester, as defined in subsection (g) of Section 2, within 21 business days after receipt. The response shall (i) provide to the requester an estimate of the time required by the public body to provide the records requested and an estimate of the fees to be charged, which the public body may require the person to pay in full before copying the requested documents, (ii) deny the request pursuant to one or more of the exemptions set out in this Act, (iii) notify the requester that the request is unduly burdensome and extend an opportunity to the requester to attempt to reduce the request to manageable proportions, or (iv) provide the records requested.

(b) Within 5 business days after receiving a request from a recurrent requester, as defined in subsection (g) of Section 2, the public body shall notify the requester (i) that the public body is treating the request as a request under subsection (g) of Section 2, (ii) of the reasons why the public body is treating the request as a request under subsection (g) of Section 2, and (iii) that the public body will send an initial response within 21 business days after receipt in accordance with subsection (a) of this Section. The public body shall also notify the requester of the proposed responses that can be asserted pursuant to subsection (a) of this Section.

(c) Unless the records are exempt from disclosure, a public body shall comply with a request within a reasonable period considering the size and complexity of the request.

Request to obtain copies or view materials should be submitted in writing directed to:

James Murray, FOIA Officer

By Email:

foiarequest@mwrd.org

 

By Mail:

MWRD

FOIA

100 E, Erie Street

Chicago, IL 60611

 

By Fax:

312-751-6598

Submit a FOIA Request

Please click here to submit a permit inquiry (PI). Do NOT use below FOIA form for permit inquiries.

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