The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) is in charge of treating sewage, managing storm water runoff, controlling for floods, and keeping pollution out of our waterways (the District only covers Cook County). It operates seven water treatment plants. It has a board of elected commissioners.Â Three commissioners are elected every two years for sixâ€“year terms. Tuesday, November 2, 2010, is the day on which you can help control the future of the District.
Why should you care about the MWRD and its Board of Commissioners?
- If you own property, then you pay taxes to the MWRD. Look at your property tax bill and you will see a line item on there for “Metro Water Reclamation Dist of Gr Chgo” – you’ll pay more to have everyone’s sewage cleaned and storm water collected than you will to pay for the Cook County Forest Preserve District and City of Chicago libraries.
- If you rent property, your rents will be somewhat based on the property taxes the property owner pays for your unit.
- If your basement has flooded, you have probably been affected by unsustainable and incomplete storm water management. This is MWRD’s responsibility but the organization seems too hellbent on building more voluminous tunnels to store water before it can be cleaned and discharged into Lake Michigan.
Read on for my endorsements if any of the preceding situations or events apply to you, or if you believe there are more sustainable ways of doing the District’s job.
Nadine is my favorite candidate. What are her credentials you ask?
- Bachelor’s degree in Ecology
- Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning
- Teaches environmental science, botany and sustainable architecture
- Works at the Cook County Forest Preserve District as an environmental planner in writing a conservation management plan
- Works as a board member in the Chicago chapter of the the U.S. Green Building CouncilÂ (posts about U.S. GBC)
Her credentials and her answers to the Chicago Tribune questionnaire are directly in line with my values, my experience, and my vision for storm water management in Chicago and Cook County. If you’re not sure how this is, then you haven’t been reading enough on Steven can plan!
In Jack’s answer to the Chicago Tribune about specific initiatives he would seek to accomplish in his term, he said he would stress,
“a vigorous campaign to keep storm water out of our sewer system, promoting all the various methods to do this. We need incentives for homeowners to install rain barrels. We need incentives for green roofs. We need incentives for installing permeable paving. Property owners need to get some tangible benefit from doing the things needed to reduce the amount of storm water entering the sewer system.”
Chicago has a combined sewer system, so it also collects storm water. The additional water cannot be cleaned fast enough and there’s not enough Deep Tunnel to store it so much of the dirty water is discharged into Lake Michigan. By reducing the demand on our systems with sustainable management practices, we will also reduce our costs AND the risk and prevalence of flooding.
Also, I’m a bit partial to the topic of using rain barrels as part of water conservation and storm water management: I was ecstatic watching my rain barrel work so well during its first storm.
The organization in charge of managing storm water should better promote the use of rain barrels and other water conservation techniques that reduce the workload on our already over-taxed sewer system.
In Michael’s comments to the Chicago Tribune about a proposed watershed management ordinance, he said,
“New development on or adjacent to the existing flood plain should be required to increase the storage rate, rather than simply meeting the pre-construction run off rate. Additionally, the ordinance should provide incentive for property owners, with existing structures, to implement water conservation techniques. In all instances we should encourage the use of permeable pavers and other technologies that will alleviate the strain on our environment.”
By mandating an increase in water storage rate, this would ensure that properties are built to better handle storm water. What I don’t see, and would like to see from Michael, is more about his ideas on which techniques would be allowed. Dedicating a large portion of a housing development to water retention – a popular technique in low-density areas – is not a productive use of land, nor does it promote sustainable storm water management. But Michael’s comments on water conservation and permeable pavers sell me on his candidacy.