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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

The Strategic Goal of Resource Management is designed to maintain a high level of performance on the core mission of protecting the public health and area waterways while pursuing opportunities to recover, reuse, and monetize resources. Strategic Plan metrics are reviewed regularly and updated annually as new data becomes available. Click on the image to enlarge. For additional information on a metric, click the info button icon.

The MWRD achieved 100% permit compliance during a period that included the persisting challenges of a global pandemic, increasingly stricter NPDES permit requirements, torrential rainstorms, unpredictable pollution, urban runoff, and flows of more than 1 billion gallons of water on an average day. Platinum awards recognize 5 or more consecutive years of 100% compliance, while gold awards recognize 1 to 4 years of 100% permit compliance.


Reducing energy consumption is both a benefit to finances and the environment.


In 2022, MWRD consumed 512,686,901 kilowatthours of electricity, a decrease of 10%.


The electricity used is correlated to wastewater flows. As wastewater flows to the Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) increases, energy demand increases. This has a double impact at the WRP in terms of energy demand: the increased wastewater flows require more energy not only to pump higher volumes of wastewater but also to add air to the aeration reactors to meet the treatment goals. Since most of the MWRD’s service area has combined sewers, as precipitation events become more severe, the wastewater volumes to be treated at the WRPs will increase, as will energy demand. Electricity is also tied to processes. The introduction of the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan and disinfection increased MWRD’s electricity demand. Regardless, reducing energy consumption is one of the goals of the MWRD’s Strategic Plan.

In 2022, 19% of the MWRD's purchased electricity came from renewable sources.

In 2022, 918,298 MMBTU of biogas was used, a decrease of 4 percent.

In 2022, 7.9 million therms of natural gas was used, a decrease of 8 percent.

In 2022, 114,080 gallons of diesel fuel was used, an increase of 13 percent.

In 2022, the MWRD used 96,878 gallons of unleaded fuel, a decrease of 17 percent.


The MWRD has a goal to get one water reclamation plant energy neutral by 2030 and Districtwide energy neutrality by 2035 with an ultimate goal to be energy positive by 2050. The MWRD is currently developing conceptual plans to achieve these goals, and a final report is expected by early 2024. The study will provide background information, a roadmap to achieving energy neutrality at the MWRD, identify legal complexities and ramifications that may be encountered achieving these goals, and how these goals may have complementary or adverse impacts on the MWRD’s carbon footprint.


The MWRD beneficially recovers and reuses the biogas generated through its wastewater treatment process for digester heating, boiler operations, and the biosolids pelletizer to reduce our carbon footprint and reliance on natural gas. The biogas reused by the MWRD in 2021 was equivalent to heating close to 11,850 homes in Illinois for a year.


The MWRD Lockport Powerhouse generates hydroelectricity that is sold back to ComEd. In 2022, the renewable electricity generated helped avoid 8,012 metric tons of greenhouse gases and provided $836,183 in revenues from the sale of electricity and renewable energy certificates. This amount of electricity could power 1,819 average Illinois homes.

Generation during the latter half of 2020 decreased due to shutdown requirements to rehabilitate a portion of the Lockport Powerhouse and ancillary system. Construction in 2023 will continue to impact generation at the Lockport Powerhouse.


The MWRD recognizes and is proactive in addressing nutrients to improve local water quality and reduce gulf hypoxia. Part of the MWRD’s commitment to sustainability and water quality included the construction of the OSTARA process.

The Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, in partnership with Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies, opened the world's largest nutrient recovery facility in 2016, which recovers nitrogen and phosphorus in the form of a pelletized, slow release fertilizer trademarked and sold by Ostara as Crystal Green. The fertilizer is beneficially used and does not pose a threat to water quality.

From 2016 through 2022, the OSTARA process recovered over 3,600 tons of phosphorus-rich fertilizer (Crystal Green). This is only a fraction of the total phosphorus removed from the liquid stream during treatment. In 2022, approximately 11,000 tons of phosphorus were removed and prevented from entering the waterways.


Effluent water is wastewater that has been treated but is not potable. Use of effluent water reduces the amount of potable water used to clean tanks and equipment, flush water, and landscape.


The MWRD Innovation Ecosystem focuses on advancing innovation in wastewater treatment and stormwater management. Through research and pilot studies, the ecosystem aims to develop effective options and decision-making tools by integrating engineered and natural systems. The MWRD conducts research and pilot studies funded by itself or external grants.


The MWRD collaborates with water industry experts from academia, technology developers, and consulting and engineering firms on many projects. These partnerships are supported by grants from federal agencies, and non-profit/professional organizations like the Water Environment Federation and the Water Research Foundation. Interactions vary from information sharing to collaborative projects, including large-scale pilots. These industry partnerships play a vital role in translating basic research ideas into new processes and technologies for practical applications.