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Open houses offer a glimpse at water transformation at MWRD plants

WHO:  MWRD and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office
WHAT:  Open house and tours of three water reclamation plants
WHERE:  Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, 400 E. 130th St., Chicago; O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant, 3500 Howard St., Skokie; and Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, 6001 W. Pershing Rd., Cicero
WHEN:   Saturday, May 18, 2019, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Highlighting the importance of critical infrastructure at work, the MWRD will host open houses and tours at its three largest water reclamation plants (WRPs). On Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the MWRD will open its doors at O’Brien WRP in Skokie, Stickney WRP in Cicero, and Calumet WRP on the Far South Side. All ages are welcome and no reservations are necessary. There will be kid-friendly activities as well as collections of unused medication, electronic waste and paper for shredding. There will also be drawings for free rain barrels and for a boat tour along the Chicago River.
Visitors will watch MWRD staff recover resources and transform water at these fascinating and important facilities. The MWRD treats on average of 1.3 billion gallons of water per day and has the capacity to treat more than two billion gallons per day, serving 10.35 million people in an 882-square-mile area of Cook County, which includes Chicago and 128 suburban communities.
“We look forward to hosting this event throughout the year to encourage all ages to enter our treatment facilities to learn how we are putting tax dollars to work to protect our water environment, our health and the future of the planet,” said MWRD Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos. “Please stop by Stickney, Calumet or O’Brien water reclamation plants and gain a new understanding and appreciation for where your water flows and how this important infrastructure works to protect our communities.”
In addition to offering visitors an exclusive look at its plant operations, the MWRD will be distributing free 20-pound bags of its new EQ Compost as well as free oak tree saplings while supplies last. The potted saplings are distributed through the MWRD’s Restore the Canopy program, which strives to promote green infrastructure as a way to help absorb future stormwater and mitigate flooding. The exceptional quality compost, like water, is an example of the many resources the MWRD recovers during the treatment process.
New this year, the MWRD will also be working with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office  will collect electronics, including cables (all types), calculators, cell phones, computers, computer hardware, laptops, desktops, fax machines, printers, hand-held devices hard drives, motherboards, UPS batteries, televisions (one per household), CRT monitors, blenders, toasters, toner cartridges, and car batteries. There will also be a paper collection for documents that contain personal information to be safely shredded, such as bank statements, medical records, old tax returns, pay stubs, bills, receipts, and other personal documents.
The free open houses and tours are part of the annual national advocacy and educational event, known as Infrastructure Week, which takes place from May 13-20. Infrastructure Week sheds light on the importance of maintaining and modernizing the nation’s infrastructure. Across the country, hundreds of utilities, businesses, labor organizations, elected officials, and more will come together to explain why water infrastructure matters to their communities and the nation.
“We are thrilled that the MWRD is joining Infrastructure Week. The state of America’s infrastructure is one of the most pressing issues facing us as a nation. The benefits of a stronger, better infrastructure system could be immense, but we urgently need political courage and leadership on this issue,” said Zach Schafer, executive director of Infrastructure Week. “During Infrastructure Week, we bring together the public and private sector to encourage lawmakers to think long-term, and invest in infrastructure at the federal, state and local level.”

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