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For the Love Of Water (FLOW) is a summary of news from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021
Special to

March 2021 | Issue 7

For the Love Of Water (FLOW) is a summary of news from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

In this edition:

·Former MWRD Board of Commissioners President Terrence J. O'Brien passes away

·Board of Commissioners to meet March 4 at 10:30 a.m.

·MWRD accepting applications for voluntary Flood-Prone Property Acquisition Program, local stormwater partnership funding until March 12

·MWRD to host webinar for suburban Green Schoolyard program today at 3:30 p.m.

·Women's History Month event set for March 18 at noon

·Join us for a virtual tour on March 16 at 2 p.m.

·Educational Materials available for students (K-12) and adults

·2021 calendars available

·Partner Highlight: Cub Scout Pack 773

·Sweep up leftover salt

·Historical Photo of the Month

·Report waterway blockages, suspicious dumping or odors to 800-332-DUMP.

Former MWRD Board of Commissioners President Terrence J. O'Brien passes away

Terry O'Brien

After a lengthy illness, former MWRD President Terrence J. O’Brien died on Feb. 28. He was 64.

President O’Brien was first elected to a six-year term as a commissioner of the MWRD in November 1988. His presence on the Board of Commissioners was so effective that he was re-elected three times by the people of Cook County. During that time, he was also elected by his fellow commissioners as president of the MWRD in 1997 and then unanimously re-elected president eight times.

“I have been honored to follow in the footsteps of longtime MWRD President, Commissioner and friend Terrence J. O’Brien,” said MWRD President Kari K. Steele. “It was President O’Brien’s leadership and principles that carved a path for all of us to protect public health and our water environment and provide excellent, innovative and reliable service that taxpayers across Cook County deserve. We are forever grateful for his 24 years of service and dedication to the people of Cook County and our environment. His family legacy will forever be instilled in the work of the MWRD.”

Over 24 years as commissioner, President O’Brien never missed a meeting. He was integral in improving water quality in the Chicago River and area waterways; protecting the source of drinking water in Lake Michigan; advancing the MWRD’s Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP); spearheading legislative efforts to recognize the MWRD as the regional stormwater authority for Cook County to address flooding; helping create the MWRD’s Information Technology Department; instituting a pollution hotline to report illegal dumping; and demonstrating remarkable financial stewardship to prepare future stability at the MWRD for generations to come. Under his watch as President, O’Brien helped the MWRD maintain a AAA bond rating, marketed MWRD real estate to introduce new revenue streams, and abated more than $262 million, returning it to Cook County property owners while still offering them an essential yet affordable wastewater treatment service.

Read the full press release and the Sun Times article.

Board of Commissioners to meet March 4 at 10:30 a.m.

Due to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Disaster Declaration and pursuant to Public Act 101-0640, the MWRD will hold its Board of Commissioners’ Regular Board Meeting by video conference at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday March 4. The MWRD Board Room and building will remain closed to protect the health and safety of the public and staff; only essential personnel will be allowed entry.

?To view the meeting and public hearing and to comment, visit Public comments may be made during the public comment period by calling (312) 751-3299. Comments may also be made by registering under the eComment link during the live meeting. Electronic comments will not be read during the meeting but will be provided to the Board electronically.

If you would like to view the live stream of the meeting, click the "In Progress" link under the Video Column. The "In Progress" link will only be active when there is a meeting in session.

Top row, L-R: President Kari K. Steele, Vice President Barbara J. McGowan, and Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia

Second row, L-R: Commissioners Cameron Davis, Kimberly Du Buclet, and Josina Morita

Third row, L-R: Commissioners Eira L. Corral Sepúlveda, Debra Shore and Mariyana T. Spyropoulos.


Applications for voluntary Flood-Prone Property Acquisition Program, local stormwater partnership funding due March 12

The MWRD is seeking project applications from local government organizations within the MWRD’s corporate boundaries to address flooding and drainage problems through the voluntary Flood-Prone Property Acquisition Program and Local Stormwater Partnership Program.

Read the press release at

?(In the photo: The MWRD partnered with the Village of Wheeling and Wheeling Park District to develop stormwater storage at the park and recreation center.)

Space to Grow school

Webinar today at 3:30 p.m. for Cook County Educators and School Officials

Interested in a schoolyard makeover?

Join us today at 3:30 p.m. to learn about a new stormwater management initiative. The MWRD is studying the possibility of partnering with suburban school districts to implement green infrastructure on school campuses. The plan follows a proven and successful formula that the MWRD has established in Chicago with partners at the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Department of Water Management, the Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands, which together formed Space to Grow. The popular program transforms Chicago schoolyards into beautiful, vibrant and functional community spaces for physical activity, outdoor learning, environmental literacy and engagement with art, while addressing neighborhood flooding issues and engaging the community. To learn more about this new program, a webinar is today, March 2 at 3:30 p.m. Register at

Take the green schoolyard survey by Friday, March 19 to express your interest by visiting

Celebrate Women's History Month with us on Thursday, March 18


Tune into our YouTube channel on Thursday, March 18 at noon to watch as Commissioners and staff members discuss Women's History Month.

We are proud to be honoring the following employees:

Junli Bai, Principal Civil Engineer; Katarzyna Lai, Managing Engineer; Lolita Thompson, Senior Civil Engineer; Malisa Torres, Diversity Officer; Jennifer Wasik, Assistant Director, Monitoring and Research; and Lucy Wilson Cunningham, Laborer Foreman

Join us for a virtual tour on Tues., March 16 at 2 p.m.

Virtual tour

On Tuesday, March 16 at 2 p.m., travel back in time to early Chicago to witness how we accomplished the herculean task of reversing the flow of the Chicago River, go inside the Deep Tunnel and learn more about what happens after the flush.

In the late 1800s there was a sense of urgency creating a sanitary district due to a booming population, the fear of waterborne illness, the quality of the drinking water supply in Lake Michigan and a contaminated river. In 1889, the Sanitary District (now MWRD) was established and its first assignment was clear: reverse the flow of the Chicago River. Registration is complimentary but pre-registration is required.

Educational Materials available for students (K-12) and adults

Find learning materials for students (K-12) and adults:

View these educational videos via our MWRD YouTube channel:

Terrence J. O'Brien Water Reclamation Plant video tour

MWRD Sustainability Summit 2020

How To Install A Rain Barrel

2021 calendar cover

2021 Calendars available

Every year the MWRD Office of Public Affairs creates and distributes an annual wall calendar that features photos taken by staff and historical facts related to the MWRD's history.

This year we are making these calendars available online; just download and print at this link 2021 Calendar.

If you would like to request a complimentary hard copy, please contact Available while supplies last. Limit one per household.

Partner Highlight: Cub Scout Pack 773


Thank you to Lisa Sowa-Downs, Cub Scout Pack 773 Committee Chair, Cub Scout Thomas and fellow Webelos Scouts for participating in a "Where Does IT Go?" virtual presentation! These Water Science Explorers are ready to protect the water environment.


The MWRD has created its first children’s book, “Where Does IT Go?” Catalogued with the U.S. Library of Congress, this colorful storybook educates students about the wastewater treatment process and encourages them to learn about careers in water. Readers take a magical and adventurous journey that begins in their toilet, flows into the sewer system, then travels to and through an MWRD water reclamation plant before exiting into area waterways for all to enjoy.

If you are an educator or Scout leader in Cook County and are interested in a “Where Does IT Go?” virtual presentation for your students (4th grade+) and/or a limited supply of printed books for your classrooms, please email

sweep up salt

Historical Photo of the Month

Every day on our social media channels we visit our glass plate negative vault to scan and research one of the amazing historical photos our predecessors captured beginning in the 1890s. Today's historical photo shows an eastward view along Washington Street at State Street in Chicago on July 9, 1916.

historical photo - Marshall Field clock

Report waterway blockages, suspicious dumping or odors to our hotline

Odor hotline

Odor hotline Spanish

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago |

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