Chairman of Finance at Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD)

Support for the Monach Butterfly

Monarch butterfly population has rapidly declined due to climate change and the loss of milkweed from development, poor land management practices, illegal logging, and heavy reliance on pesticides and herbicides. To support the Illinois Monarch Project, the MWRD plans to plant milkweed as part of its native prairie landscaping (NPL) and distribute free milkweed seed packets at community outreach events this year. Keep a lookout!

Future City Competition Entices Students to Pursue STEM Careers

Future City Competition introduces 6th, 7th and 8th grade students nationwide to engineering with SimCity™ software, and MWRD Commissioners Frank Avila and Mariyana Spyropoulos, along with six MWRD staff members, volunteered at the Chicago regionals held at the University of Illinois at Chicago campus recently. The event gives students from across the country the opportunity to design cities with simulation software, build scale models, write essays and give oral presentations on their city’s design.

MWRD Breaks Ground on Arrowhead Lake Flood Control Project

Partners with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) officially broke ground on a $1.6 million flood control project that will bring much needed relief for area residents, while restoring and improving forest preserve amenities at Arrowhead Lake. Approximately 2,675 feet of a multi-use pedestrian path will also be resurfaced with new asphalt and an eroded bank at the south side of Arrowhead Lake will be regraded and restored with native seed, plant plugs and trees.

MWRD Prioritizes Green Infrastructure Projects for 2019

The prevalence of green infrastructure will be increasing throughout Cook County to help manage stormwater thanks to financial support from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The MWRD has selected 19 green infrastructure (GI) projects to provide funding and other assistance after a call for projects last summer. 

MWRD-USACE Partnership Encourages Reservoir Completion

A pilot program by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) will grant MWRD the critical funds it needs to complete the final chapter of the famed Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) that protects and improves the quality of area waterways and reduces flooding. Thanks to the support of the Corps’ Chicago District and the Illinois congressional delegation, the MWRD has secured $33.8 million to help complete McCook Reservoir Stage II.

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Success of the McCook Reservoir

A flood mitigation and water quality improvement project unrivaled in size throughout the world has earned the MWRD a heralded award at an international conference. Benefitting 3.1 million people living in Chicago and 36 suburbs, McCook Reservoir Stage I captures and stores water before it can be sent by gravity and pumped from TARP to MWRD water reclamation plants to be
cleaned and released to waterways.

Pharmaceutical Collection

More than 150 pounds of unwanted medicine was collected in a mere four

hours by MWRD to prevent pollution in the waterways and educate the region about safe disposal of pharmaceuticals.

Veteran-Owned Businesses Encouraged

In observance of the many sacrifices and contributions made by the country’s
brave servicemen and women, the MWRD Board of Commissioners formally adopted a policy to increase contracting opportunities for veteran-owned and operated small business enterprises.

Goats & Sheep Landscaping

The MWRD rented 50 goats and sheep from a Wisconsin company called Vegetation Solutions and they ate five acres over five to six weeks. They'll eat everything and anything they can touch and are very low-maintenance. Past goat and sheep landscaping users have said that the more you treat with goats, the vegetation doesn't come back as dense or as overgrown the next season. We're excited to continue pushing for no pesticide/herbicide landscaping!

Go Easy on the Salt to Protect Water Quality

With winter underway, the MWRD is taking the opportunity to share tips for smart, efficient handling of road salt. While road salt enhances safety and helps Chicago thaw out of icy conditions, it also has unwanted ramifications for the local water environment. Check out the “Salt Smart/Water Wellness” tips that help save resources while also protecting the waterways from potential contamination

MWRD Celebrates Pride Month

In recognition of Pride Month, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) raised the Pride flag for the first time outside its headquarters on Erie Street off the Magnificent Mile. The rainbow striped flag is associated with the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, and is a widely-recognized emblem of equality and inclusion. 

Emission Reductions Help MWRD Reach Climate Change Goals Ahead of Schedule

Even though the federal government withdrew from the Paris Agreement back in July 2017, it only took MWRD a month to pass our own resolution to honor it by continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, we installed new upgrades to our Stickney Water Reclamation Plant. Now, in early 2019, those upgrades have helped us curb methane emissions and reduce our carbon footprint by up to 172,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. That's the equivalent of taking 36,518 vehicles driven for one year off the streets! 

International Water & Waste Management Conference & Expo

International Conference on Water & Waste Management is the most unique and comprehensive yearly event showcasing latest technologies in water and waste management sector. The conference will be chaired by Commissioner Frank Avila in Hyderabad, India on February 19-20, 2019.

10 Year Biosolids Partnership

On Oct. 3, the MWRD received commendation from the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP) for being a NBP Platinum member for a decade. The achievement was observed at the annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) held this year at the Ernest Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA.

Partnership with Space to Grow

Five Chicago elementary schoolyards will receive presents in the form of major campus upgrades to improve outdoor learning amenities and play areas while addressing stormwater management through the Space to Grow partnership.

Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) Investing

An updated investment policy approved by the MWRD Board of Commissioners calls for sustainability factors to be regularly considered when the MWRD is evaluating investments. “We are backing up our commitment to the environment by also making investments in companies that place value in sustainable business practices,” said MWRD Commissioner Frank Avila. “This prudent financial management can protect taxpayers while also helping to protect our environment for future generations.”

Celebrating Black History Month

MWRD Vice President  Barbara McGowan and President Kari K. Steele led the raising of the African American flag for the first time on MWRD’s main office building to commemorate Black History Month. This event was a kickoff to a series of events this month to honor the amazing accomplishments of local African American history makers.

MWRD’s 130th Anniversary 

Nearly 600 visitors went behind the scenes recently to see how the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) water reclamation plants operate each day to protect their water environment. The tours were given at the MWRD’s Calumet, O’Brien and Stickney WRPs to celebrate the MWRD’s 130th anniversary and as part of the annual Infrastructure Week, a national campaign promoting awareness about the impact that infrastructure has on local economies, workers and communities.

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MWRD Elects Kari K. Steele as President

We welcome President Kari K. Steele to her new role. Her unique qualification as the only chemist serving on the nine member board and years of experience as an environmentalist and community leader is an asset to fulfilling MWRD's mission.  Included in her team of elected officers for the two-year term positions will be Vice President Barbara McGowan and Chairman of Finance Frank Avila.


MWRD Excellence in Financial Reporting

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) has won high praise for its ability to accurately and transparently deliver a detailed and thorough financial reporting system that connects with the taxpayers it serves.

Albany Park Tunnel

The MWRD and the City teamed up to complete the Albany Park Storm water Diversion Tunnel that will convey water overflowing at the North Branch of the Chicago River and convey it more than a mile east to the North Shore Channel to relieve the North Side community that has experienced major flooding.

Restored Riverfront in Horner Park

Advocates for cleaner water and river recreation united with the MWRD to celebrate the unveiling of a transformed riverfront that will enhance access to
the North Branch of the Chicago River on the city’s North Side. On Sept. 15, MWRD Commissioner Frank Avila
joined U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (5th), 33rd Ward Ald. Deb Mell, 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar and other partners in celebrating the opening of a restored riverfront along the west bank of the Chicago River at Montrose Avenue in Chicago’s Horner Park neighborhood.

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