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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

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For the Love of Water (FLOW) is the MWRD monthly news summary. 

Upcoming Events

MWRD Board of Commissioners May meetings

Board of Commissioners Portrait

Thursdays, May 2 and 16
10:30 am

The MWRD Board of Commissioners will hold its Regular Board Meeting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 2 and Thursday, May 16.

Public comments may be made at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie Street, Chicago, during the Public Comment period. 

An "In Progress" link under the Video Column will be active when there is a meeting in session. Closed captioning is available.

Watch meeting

Monthly Virtual Tour set for May 7 at 2 p.m. 

Embark on a captivating virtual tour with the MWRD. 

Immerse yourself in the depths of the world's largest water reclamation facility, venture through the intricate Deep Tunnel system, encounter the enchanting dancing water bear, and witness the fascinating process of electrofishing in action. Delve into the rich history that defines us and discover the compelling stories that position us as a forward-thinking utility for the future. Make this an afternoon of exploration, innovation and environmental wonders.

Register for the virtual tour



Chicago Water Week Open Houses set for May 4 and May 11

The MWRD will host an open house and tours in conjunction with Chicago Water Week on Saturday, May 4, and Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The O'Brien Water Reclamation Plant (3500 Howard St., Skokie) will be open on May 4 and the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant (6001 W. Pershing Rd., Cicero) will welcome guests on May 11 without advanced reservations to learn how we are recovering resources and transforming water. 

All ages are welcome. After registering at a check-in table, guests will watch a video then tour the plant. Please wear closed-toe shoes. No reservations required. #ChiWaterWeek

Learn more


Asian American and Pacific Islander Month event set for May 14



Mia Park

Noon – 1 p.m.
Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building
100 E. Erie Street, Chicago

The MWRD will host Mia Park, a multi-dimensional Korean American artist, for Asian American and Pacific Islander Month on Wednesday, May 14 from noon – 1 p.m. at the Barbara J. McGowan Main Office Building, 100 E. Erie Street, Chicago. 

 Mia’s boundless enthusiasm and energy fuel her multiverse of community engagement. She functions as a grassroots eco-system of projects that connect people as a taiji and yoga teacher, actress, producer, and CNA in nursing school.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Month commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Register by May 10, 2024.

Seating is limited and lunch will be provided.


Monitoring and Research Monthly Seminar set for Friday, May 31 at 10:30 a.m.

"Using Hyperspectral Remote Sensing on Farmland for Reducing Environmental Impacts"

On Friday, May 31, at 10:30 a.m., Dr. Yi Wang, Associate Professor/Sustainable Vegetable Production & Precision Agriculture, Department of Plant and Agroecosystem Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will present "Using Hyperspectral Remote Sensing on Farmland for Reducing Environmental Impacts."


In person: Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, Lue-Hing R&D Complex, 6001 West Pershing Rd., Cicero, IL. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance by emailing Dr. Heng Zhang at or call (708) 588-4264 or (708) 588-4059.

Virtual: Go to Seminars and Presentations on May 31 for the link to access the seminar.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Heng Zhang, Assistant Director of Monitoring and Research, at (708) 588-4264 or (708) 588-4059.


The seminar is eligible for Professional Development Credits/CEUs. 

Learn more

Lockport Powerhouse Open House and Tours
Saturday, June 8, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

On Saturday, June 8, step back in time to tour the MWRD's historic Lockport Powerhouse and learn how it helped establish the canal to save the Chicago region.

Lockport Powerhouse has been generating hydroelectricity since 1907 and continues operation today with upgraded state-of-the art technology. At the downstream end of the 76-mile Chicago Area Waterway System, Lockport Powerhouse helps maintain water levels and provide drainage for the Chicago area. Join our team of expert guides for an adventure through time, where you'll have a firsthand view of this innovative and majestic facility. There is no parking at the Powerhouse; park at 303 W. 2nd St., Lockport, then board a free bus for a 10 minute ride to the Powerhouse. 

Learn more




Latest News

MWRD Calumet Community Partnership Council, Environmental Justice section spearheads Earth Day Cleanup 

To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, the MWRD’s Calumet Community Partnership Council (CPC) and staff joined their neighbors from People for Community Recovery, Golden Gate Homeowner’s Association, Aldridge Elementary School, Community and After School Youth Guidance Resource, 9th Ward Ald. Anthony A. Beale, 10th Ward Ald. Peter Chico, City of Chicago Community Safety Coordination Center and Smiley’s Convenience Store to beautify Hazel Johnson EJ Way on the Far South Side.

MWRD and community volunteers clean up Hazel Johnson EJ Way

The CPC spearheaded the Earth Day Cleanup initiative in alignment with a goal of promoting sustainability and preserving the ecological integrity of the area. Volunteers removed litter, debris, weeds and invasive buckthorn that was present in various locations in the neighborhood surrounding the MWRD’s Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, 400 E. 130th St., and Aldridge Elementary School, 630 E. 131st St.

The neighborhood was home to Hazel Johnson, known as the “mother of the environmental justice movement.” She worked to improve the living conditions in public housing, devoting her time, energy and services to her Chicago neighbors from the 1970s up until her death in 2011. 

In 2015, the Illinois General Assembly named 130th Street from the Bishop Ford Freeway (I-94) to State Street “Hazel Johnson EJ Way” to recognize her dedication. Now her daughter Cheryl continues the effort. 

MWRD and community volunteers clean up Hazel Johnson EJ Way
MWRD and community volunteers clean up Hazel Johnson EJ Way
MWRD and community volunteers clean up Hazel Johnson EJ Way
MWRD and community volunteers clean up Hazel Johnson EJ Way
MWRD and community volunteers clean up Hazel Johnson EJ Way
MWRD and community volunteers clean up Hazel Johnson EJ Way


Read more about the event

Special unit rescue team rappels down MWRD infrastructure

In the realm of emergency response training, accessing treacherous environments like skyscrapers and abandoned elevator shafts can pose significant challenges. However, in its role as a government utility dedicated to water quality and flood mitigation, the MWRD's Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) emerged as an invaluable training terrain for specialized units.

The MWRD recently welcomed dozens of acrobatic firefighters from different departments that are part of the Technical Rescue Team made up of special units from the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) from Divisions 10 and 21. These divisions, representing fire departments ranging from Westmont to Forest View and Bedford Park to Oak Lawn, rappelled down a TARP drop shaft at the MWRD’s Mainstream Pumping Station in Hodgkins. 

The drop shaft, which is used to ventilate the Deep Tunnel, also allows the MWRD to move equipment down by crane to the tunnel system 300 feet below ground. Kudos to the Pleasantview Fire Protection District for their exceptional coordination. 

Learn more 

Special Unit Rescue team repels down a shaft the Mainstream Pumping Station


MWRD explores creative ways to reduce energy usage, protect taxpayers

Kirie plant personnel
Pictured (L-R): MWRD Assistant Chief Operating Engineer Colm O’Meara, Treatment Plant Operator III Rick Campbell, Senior Engineer Fay Costa, Managing Engineer Kathy Lai and Associate Electrical Engineer Tuyen Phan are leading efforts to reduce energy consumption at the Kirie Water Reclamation Plant in Des Plaines.

The MWRD's Kirie and Egan water reclamation plants are taking inventory of energy usage and finding innovative ways to cut costs. Under the ComEd Strategic Energy Management program created for qualified industrial customers, the MWRD has worked with Cascade Energy to develop new efficiencies that cut energy consumption. But unlike a major retrofit, curtailing energy, implementing new technology or relying on new sources of energy, this detailed exercise has had plant operators and engineers researching and meticulously examining about 80 different treatment procedures to figure out how they can reduce energy demand. 

Read more about the program

MWRD leadership meets with Stratton, Welch, Harmon and lawmakers to bolster protection for water, environment

Top elected MWRD officials traveled to Springfield recently to showcase the MWRD’s work to protect the region’s water environment and to seek support on key legislation.

Board of Commissioners in Springfield

The MWRD’s Board of Commissioners met with members of the Illinois General Assembly, including House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th Dist.), Senate President Don Harmon (39th Dist.), Senate Minority Leader John F. Curran (41st Dist.), Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and dozens of other state lawmakers. 

The commissioners highlighted the MWRD’s work to mitigate regional flooding, treat wastewater for 5.19 million people, and protect area waterways, including the region’s drinking water source, Lake Michigan, and promoted several bills under consideration by lawmakers. 

“We have had many accomplishments over the past 135 years which would not have been possible without the support of the Illinois General Assembly,” said MWRD President Kari K. Steele. “Through this advocacy we can achieve a better quality of life for residents in the Cook County area, which has an impact throughout Illinois.”

Board of Commissioners in Springfield
MWRD Commissioners and Executive Director Brian Perkovich had a successful visit to our state capitol to showcase MWRD's work and to seek support on legislation.
Board of Commissioners in Springfield with House Speaker Welch
The MWRD Board of Commissioners met with House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th Dist.) at the state capitol in Springfield.

This year, the MWRD is seeking authority to create a Department of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice and is seeking to allow for new procurement flexibility in managing contracts to ensure fiscal responsibility. 

“We visit the Illinois General Assembly each year because their partnership is integral to advancing our work to protect our water environment in Cook County and downstream - from the Chicago River to the Des Plaines River through the Illinois River, down to the Mississippi River and eventually the Gulf of Mexico,” said Vice President Patricia Theresa Flynn. “Thank you to Illinois House and Senate leadership and members for your continued partnership.”

While advancing new environmental justice initiatives that promote water quality and resiliency against climate change, the MWRD simultaneously safeguards its financial integrity. Fitch Ratings recently reaffirmed the MWRD’s AAA credit rating, while Moody’s Investor Services recently upgraded the MWRD’s credit rating to Aa1, and Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings also upgraded the MWRD rating from AA to AA+. 

Learn more about the visit

MWRD in the News

"DEEP CLEANED: How Chicago Cleans 1.4 Billion Gallons Of Wastewater Every Day," Insider (8.61 million subscribers)

The Stickney Water Reclamation Point in Illinois is one of the largest wastewater-treatment facilities in the world, serving about 2.3 million people and cleaning an average of 700 million gallons of wastewater a day. During rainfall, the facility can handle a whopping 1.44 billion gallons of wastewater in a single day — that's a million gallons every minute.

The clean water is released into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, and the sludge that is removed from the water is converted to biosolids, which are a sustainable alternative to chemical fertilizers.

More information

Watch the program


"Overflow action alerts: What are they and why do they matter? Riverside often reposts these messages from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District," Riverside-Brookfield Landmark

Riverside residents who are signed up to receive emails from the village may have noticed one subject line that occasionally reappears in their inboxes: “MWRD Releases Overflow Action Alert.” At first glance, this simple phrase could cause confusion or alarm. Is the Des Plaines River flooding into town? What about your basement? Does emergency action need to be taken?

The answer to these questions is no — at least, not yet. Over the past few weeks, the MWRD, short for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, has issued two overflow action alerts, one March 14 and the other April 1. Both days brought heavy rain to the Chicagoland area, and on both days, Riverside reposted the alerts to the village’s website and sent them out via email.

Whether you’ve never heard of an overflow action alert in your life or you’ve seen them on Riverside’s website from time to time, read on to learn about why these alerts are important and how you can make a difference in water conservation efforts by following the MWRD’s recommendations. Anyone can sign up to receive them directly from the MWRD through text messages on the organization’s website.

Read the story


Sign up for Overflow Action Alert text messages



Sign up to receive Overflow Action Alert text messages year round. When we announce an Overflow Action Alert, you will be reminded to reduce your use of water before, during and after a storm to help prevent excess water from entering local sewers.

Sign up for alerts

Join Our Team!  

Are you seeking a new career or looking for a new job?

If so, please visit our online employment center at this link to register, apply and learn more about jobs and the selection process at the MWRD. We also participate in job fairs throughout the county so stop by our table if you are in attendance! Staff in a variety of job classifications were interviewed to discuss their background and work that they do. The videos can be found on the MWRD YouTube page.

Employment Center

Purchase low cost MWRD Rain Barrels while supplies last

MWRD Rain Barrels

The MWRD offers eco-friendly, low-cost rain barrels available in four colors. These 55-gallon barrels are repurposed, adding an extra layer of green to your home. Don't miss out on this opportunity to conserve water and reduce runoff while adding a splash of color to your surroundings. 

Order yours today

Watch an installation video

Restore the Canopy Program season underway

Complimentary red, pin, bur, black or swamp white oak saplings are available at our water reclamation plants on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon through October. 

If more than 50 potted saplings are desired, delivery is available, or park districts, residents and municipalities can schedule pick ups. The saplings come in one gallon pots or can be requested as bare roots in bags of 100. These must be planted within a matter of days for premium viability. 

Learn more


Read our “Green Neighbor Guide”

Water is one of the most valuable resources on our planet. We require clean and fresh water for drinking, cleaning, recreation and other activities. However, too much of it can become a nuisance when it causes flooding in waterways and urban areas, impacting our travel when roads are flooded and even damaging our homes and businesses.


The Green Neighbor Guide

While there are myriad ways to be a Green Neighbor—some actions can be as simple as not over-fertilizing your lawn and garden, washing and maintaining your vehicles properly, or planting a native tree—our Green Neighbor Guide focuses on stormwater management projects that you can build or install on your property. 

The guide provides detailed instructions for disconnecting downspouts; installing rain barrels or cisterns to capture stormwater for reuse; installing dry wells and rain gardens to allow stormwater to filter into the ground; and replacing asphalt and concrete surfaces with permeable paving to reduce stormwater runoff. 

Download guide

What is the key to pollution prevention when it comes to are Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)?

The key to pollution prevention is addressing the source of PFAS. 

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade fluorinated compounds that are designed to be stable and have been in commercial use since the 1940s. The stability of the chemicals makes them difficult to degrade which is why they are often called “forever chemicals.” PFAS are in countless commercial, consumer, and industrial products and are acknowledged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be widely present in the environment.

Like other water utilities across the U.S., the MWRD is addressing how best to manage PFAS in the water environment. The MWRD’s seven water reclamation plants (WRPs) do not produce nor use PFAS but are passive receivers of these chemicals discharged to local sewers. 

Wastewater can contain trace amounts of these chemicals from industrial, commercial and household sources. The MWRD’s WRPs were not designed to remove these chemicals during the treatment process. The use of nonstick cookware, cosmetics and sunscreens, washing clothes, and putting out fires with certain foams can all introduce PFAS into the environment. 

The MWRD is closely following and proceeding based on the developing science on the potential impacts of PFAS. The key to pollution prevention is addressing the source of PFAS. The MWRD is working to identify and reduce industrial discharges of PFAS, learning how the discharge from these sources can be reduced and encouraging federal and state regulators to focus on stopping these chemicals at the source. The MWRD’s pretreatment program regulates industrial discharges to protect the treatment process and valuable resources the MWRD recovers. 

More PFAS information

Permanent Household Hazardous Waste Collection

Dispose of your household chemicals responsibly and recycle your old computers.

The public may drop them off at the City of Chicago's permanent Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility at 1150 N. North Branch Street (two blocks east of the Kennedy Expressway at Division Street).

Household chemicals and computers often contain hazardous substances, such as lead, mercury, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which can contaminate our air, soil, and water. Through proper disposal methods or recycling, these hazardous substances are reprocessed and reused in an environmentally-responsible manner.


The Household Chemical and Computer Recycling Facility accepts a range of items, including household cleaners, oil-based paints, solvents, cell phones, compact fluorescent light bulbs, computers, and related equipment, to name a few. It does not accept business/commercial sector wastes, explosives, fireworks or latex paint. 

During business hours, an attendant will help unload your vehicle and accept your materials. Materials should not be left outside the facility unattended. Scheduled business hours are:

  • Tuesdays 7 am - Noon
  • Thursdays 2 pm - 7 pm
  • The first Saturday of every month 8 am - 3 pm

See accepted items

Doing Business with the MWRD

The MWRD procures materials and services required for operations in compliance with the Purchasing Act. The mission of the Diversity Section is to ensure that minority-owned (MBE), women-owned (WBE), small (SBE), and veteran-owned (VBE) business enterprises are given equal opportunities to participate in the performance of the MWRD’s construction program and professional service contracts over $100,000.

Our procurement process is designed to ensure the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars, so we encourage you to register to become a vendor. Sign up for a weekly email listing new contract announcements by emailing

Get started

Please report waterway blockages, illegal or suspicious dumping to waterways or sewers, or odors.

Call 800-332-DUMP (3867) or in Spanish 855-323-4801

Learn more

Tour an MWRD facility

The MWRD is the wastewater treatment and stormwater management agency for Chicago and 128 suburban communities within Cook County, Illinois. We work to mitigate flooding and convert wastewater into valuable resources like clean water, phosphorus, biosolids and natural gas. 

Tour group at Stickney

If you live within our service area, the water that goes down your toilet, sinks and drains eventually comes to us to be cleaned. Nearly 500 billion gallons of wastewater is treated by our seven water reclamation plants every year. The MWRD's total wastewater treatment capacity is over 2.0 billion gallons per day. Learn more about the work of the MWRD on our YouTube channel or schedule a group tour and/or visit us virtually.

Schedule a tour


Historical Photo of the Month

Historical image of construction of the floor for the Pump and Blower Building at the O'Brien Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) on August 18, 1926.

Construction of the floor for the Pump and Blower Building at the O'Brien Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) on August 18, 1926. Originally known as North Side, the facility began operation in 1928 and was a model for modern sewage treatment technology and currently serves more than 1.3 million people residing in a 143-square-mile area that includes Chicago north of Fullerton Avenue, and the 17 suburbs in northern Cook County.

May 2024 Calendar

Honeybees enjoy numerous swamp milkweed flowers in Franklin Park rain gardens. This green infrastructure project funded by the MWRD features native plantings of broad-leaved purple coneflower, little bluestem, brown-eyed Susan and the common milkweed across 10.800 square feet of improvements at five locations on Pacific Avenue.

Download the MWRD 2024 Calendar

Honeybees enjoy numerous swamp milkweed flowers in Franklin Park rain gardens.

Established in 1889, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is an award-winning, special purpose government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management in Cook County, Illinois.


For more information: