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

News & Events | May 7th, 2024

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s (MWRD) top elected officials traveled to Springfield last week to showcase the MWRD’s work to protect the region’s water and environment and to seek support on key legislation.

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.”

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.”

The Illinois General Assembly created the MWRD in 1889 through an enabling Act that first authorized the then-Sanitary District of Chicago to reverse the flow of the Chicago River. In 2004, state lawmakers authorized the MWRD to become the regional stormwater authority for Cook County.

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+.

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