Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Marks 130 Years of Service



Compost, trees and rain barrels do not necessarily come to mind when considering the work of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The organization serves Chicago and 128 suburban communities to protect area water quality in both local waterways and the drinking water supply in Lake Michigan, while also working to minimize flooding across Cook County.

        Over 130 years, the MWRD’s scope has evolved beyond protecting local water resources to pursuing innovative ways to recover other resources. One example is the new MWRD EQ Compost, in which the MWRD co-composts three parts wood chips with one part biosolids, an organic material that is a product of the wastewater treatment process.

         Biosolids are used as a soil amendment to improve the organic carbon content, structure and porosity of soils to allow plants to more effectively utilize nutrients. Another bonus is that it is available to the public for free. Gardeners can either pick up the compost—“bring your own bucket”—or receive free delivery on orders of 10 cubic yards or more.

        The EQ Compost can be blended with topsoil or potting soil 20 to 50 percent by volume to establish grass, repair lawns, to make a soil blend for planter boxes or pots or for raised vegetable or flower garden beds. It can also be used as mulch.

        Trees are another environmental management tool that contribute clean air, shade, carbon sequestration and protection from wind and noise. Trees also align with the MWRD mission of stormwater management by absorbing water and reducing flooding. In response to the decimation of the area’s tree population due to emerald ash borer infestations and extreme weather, the MWRD launched a Restore the Canopy initiative in 2016.

        Each Wednesday morning at its water reclamation plants, the MWRD gives away free oak tree saplings alongside the compost—more than 64,000 in only three years. Like rain barrels, which the MWRD distributes at cost via its website, the tree saplings work to conserve water, mitigate flooding and improve regional water quality.

 

For more information, visit mwrd.org.

Patrick Thomas is the public affairs specialist for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. For more information, call 312-751-6633.

 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Monitoring for Bees in Midewin

Monitors look for bees in 100-meter transects, spending 30 minutes in each one. Barb Krupa, an undergraduate zoology major at ONU, is active at Midewin as often as three days a week.

Chicago’s Field Museum Involves Public in Monarch Research

Monarch butterflies have experienced an 80 percent population decline over the last 20 years, partly due to loss of milkweed plants, the only food source for monarch caterpillars.

Summer’s Symphony

The project is teaching volunteers to recognize the 12 most commonly heard insects in the Chicago region and how to document them in the field.

Rare Habitat Hosts Unusual Species

There are about 1,000 acres of dolomite prairie on the Midewin. At the core of dolomite prairie is magnesium-rich dolomitic limestone that is home to specialized plants evolved to take advantage of poor, shallow soils.

MASTER GARDENER RESOURCES

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Last Call to Enter Chicago Gardening Awards

July 7 is the deadline for entering the third annual Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards (CEGA), Chicago’s only citywide gardening honors.

New Book Unites Passion and Biology

Dr. Meena Malhotra’s new book, The Biology of Passion, makes the case that passion and the maintenance of that joyful state are dictated more by modifiable biochemistry than uncontrollable emotions.

Safe Haven Charity Run Fights Homelessness

A Safe Haven Foundation will conduct the ninth annual, 5K Run, To End Homelessness beginning at 8:30 a.m., July 13, at Montrose Harbor Grove 16.

Register Now for McHenry County’s Largest Green Event

The McHenry County College (MCC) Sustainability Center will hold its annual Green Living Expo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on November 2.

Letter from The Publisher

This spring has been pretty unfavorable to backyard gardens­—cool, wet, foggy, record rainfall and temps lower than normal.

Midewin Tallgrass Prairie Attracts Community ‘Champions’

This year, a record five Joliet-area companies—DuPont, Ecolab, Exelon, Harrah’s Joliet, and Waste Management of Illinois—were recognized as “Prairie Champions” for supporting ecological restoration at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, in Wilmington.