Program Mission and Achievements
The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) oversees a countywide effort to manage stormwater runoff, reduce flooding, and protect our waterways.
Since being granted stormwater management authority in 2004, the MWRD has worked with communities and other agencies to identify, develop, fund, and build projects to mitigate regional and localized flooding.
We established the Watershed Management Ordinance to regulate development by managing stormwater onsite. Through onsite detention and volume control (such as green infrastructure), the impact of runoff from property is reduced.
Additionally, we maintain over 500 miles of streams and rivers, removing obstructions that limit drainage for each of the county's watersheds.
The mission of the countywide stormwater management program is to provide Cook County with effective rules, regulations, and projects that will mitigate stormwater effects on public health, safety, property and the environment.
- Cook County Stormwater Management Plan
As the MWRD continues on its mission outlined in the Cook County Stormwater Management Plan, it will also confront the challenges resulting from climate change. Additionally, the MWRD will provide its services in a fair and equitable manner as it continues to collaborate and partner with communities to address stormwater issues.
The MWRD provides stormwater management services for over 130 communities.
Below is an overview of our work since 2004, when the State of Illinois granted the MWRD authority to manage stormwater throughout Cook County.
- There are 240+ active and complete stormwater capital improvement projects throughout Cook County.
- As part of the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, the MWRD adopted a the Climate Action Plan and an Environmental Justice policy to ensure our services are reliable, equitable, and address climate change.
- The MWRD operates 33 regional stormwater reservoirs in conjunction with other municipal and county agencies, providing approximately 4.5 billion gallons in stormwater detention.
- More than 600 million gallons of stormwater detention have been permitted under the Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO).
- Over 100 million gallons of stormwater retention have been built using green infrastructure through the WMO and local partnerships.
- The Small Streams Maintenance Program has removed over 400,000 cubic yards of debris from streams and rivers within the county.
- The MWRD is expected to receive over $45 million in grants and reimbursements from federal and state sources for stormwater management projects.
- Detailed Watershed Plans were developed for 6 watersheds in Cook County, resulting in over 30 approved projects to address overbank flooding and streambank erosion of regional waterways.
- The MWRD has stormwater partnerships with communities on 180+ projects to manage local stormwater issues using both gray (traditional) and green infrastructure as well as the removal of over 100 flood-prone properties from the floodplain.
- The MWRD has an ongoing partnership with "Space to Grow", which transforms Chicago schoolyards into vibrant play spaces using green infrastructure. So far, 34 schools have been transformed, providing 6.5 million gallons of stormwater retention.
- A pilot program is currently underway that aims to expand green infrastructure to suburban Cook County schools.
- The development of a volumetric tool designed to guide long-term planning by assessing the overall flood storage needs of a community.