In accordance with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Act and to advance our Strategic Plan, the MWRD established the Environmental Justice Section in the 2022 Budget. The corresponding policy was issued on January 19, 2023, based on the definition from the EPA.
The MWRD is committed to incorporating diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) principals in all decision making, planning, policy making, programs and activities, and in the execution of administrative processes. A commitment to DEIJ principles means valuing and celebrating our differences and seeking ways to create a welcoming environment that respects and embraces the experiences and contributions of every community and individual. DEIJ requires continuous introspection, commitment, and the development and implementation of policies that lead to effective actions yielding measurable results.
Environmental Justice at the MWRD
The MWRD is passionate about creating and sustaining an inclusive and equitable working environment, understanding that our differences strengthen our community. We understand that to serve effectively, we must strive for equity by providing access to opportunity for our employees, constituents, and community partners. This includes, but is not limited to, race, ethnicity, language, gender identity and expression, veteran status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, religion, and physical and mental abilities.
The MWRD’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice supports our core values of Excellence, Respect, Innovation, Safety, Equity, Diversity, and Accountability.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Defined
The MWRD’s commitment to these principles means valuing and celebrating our differences and seeking ways to create a welcoming environment that respects and embraces the experiences and contributions of every community and individual. DEIJ requires continuous introspection, commitment, and the development and implementation of policies that lead to effective actions yielding measurable results.
- Diversity: The representation of different and unique identities, backgrounds, characteristics, experiences, and perspectives.
- Equity: Providing everyone with the tools they need to succeed by ensuring access, resources, and opportunities for all; especially for those who are underrepresented and have been historically underserved and disadvantaged.
- Inclusion: Inclusion is the practice of ensuring that people feel a sense of belonging and support from the organization and are provided an opportunity to contribute their talents to fulfilment of the MWRD’s mission. This is achieved by creating an ethical, tolerant, and respectful environment and culture in which differences are acknowledged and celebrated.
- Justice: The ethical, philosophical idea that people are to be treated impartially, fairly, properly, and reasonably to ensure that no harm befalls another, and that where harm is alleged, action is taken to remedy the injustice.
EJ In Action
Community Partnership Councils
In support of our Strategic Plan, Community Partnership Councils were developed to encourage public involvement. The first council was established around the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant; our oldest treatment facility and located in historically under-resourced communities. EJ is looking forward to establishing councils surrounding our other facilities.
MWRD EJ staff attends quarterly watershed planning council meetings for Little Calumet River, Calumet Sag Chanel, North Branch of Chicago River, Lower Des Plaines, and Poplar Creek & Upper Salt Creek.
MWRD EJ is assisting community members and municipalities identify projects that may be eligible for participation in Green Infrastructure projects. The Water Environment Foundation Students and Young Professionals Community led a recent partnership with MWRD to construct a rain garden at O.A. Thorp Scholastic Academy.
History & Hope/Pullman Partnership
MWRD EJ participated in History & Hope, an 8-week environmental justice program for teenagers facilitated and led by Pullman National Historical Park. The program educated youth from Chicago's most challenged communities on best practices to adapt and build resilience to climate change.