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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

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The questions

All candidates were invited to respond to questionnaires, although not all chose to participate. Click on a candidate's name to see the unedited response to each question.

Biographical information & experience
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Patrick Daley Thompson
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 7/8/1969
Occupation: Lawyer/Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C.
Marital status: Married
Spouse: Kathleen G. Thompson

Education:

J.D. from The John Marshall Law School, 1999
B.A. from St. Mary's University of Minnesota in 1991
St. Ignatius College Prep, 1987
Nativity of Our Lord, 1983

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

• Illinois Attorney General Business Advisory Council
• Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Chairman of the Board of Directors
• The Louis L. Valentine Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, Immediate Past President and current Board Member
• Aquinas Literacy Center, Past Chairman and current Board Member
• South Loop Chamber of Commerce, Secretary
• Leadership Greater Chicago, Fellow
• Historic Chicago Bungalow Association, Board Member
• The John Marshall Law School Board of Visitors
• Nativity of Our Lord Parish Finance Council
• 11th Ward Democratic Organization
• Irish Fellowship Club President
• Christian Community Health Center, Board Member

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

In 2000 I was elected Delegate to the Democratic National Convention and in 2004 I served on the Rules Committee to the Democratic National Convention.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

In May of 2011, I joined Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C.. The Firm historically has represented various governments in a variety of engagements. Such engagements include the Village of Barrington Hills, the Chicago Park Disrtrict, the City of Chicago and the Village of Bridgeview. While at a prior law firm, my firm served as special counsel to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

Debra Shore
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 8/3/1952
Occupation: Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
Marital status: Domestic partner
Spouse: Kathleen Gillespie

Education:

I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD with a degree in Philosophy & Visual Arts. I earned a Master's degree from Johns Hopkins University in Liberal Arts and a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia College (Chicago). In 2008 I earned a certificate in Executive Education from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

I serve on the board of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute (Chair), and Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette. I was the founding editor of Chicago Wilderness Magazine and am an active volunteer with the North Branch Restoration Project restoring prairies and oak woods in the forest preserves. In 1996 I became a founding board member of Friends of the Forest Preserves. I am also a member of the Women's Board at the University of Chicago.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

Elected as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in 2006. Elected as delegate to the Democratic National Convention pledged to Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None

Kari K. Steele
Political party: Democrat
Birthdate: 6/17/1975
Occupation: Senior Formulating Chemist/ L'Oreal USA
Marital status: Single
Spouse: n/a

Education:

Chemistry Pre-Med degree, with a minor in Biology, from Xavier University of Louisiana.
Currently I'm a Formulating Chemist for a major cosmetic company. I also have experience working at The Jardine Water Purification Plant as a Water Chemist, and working for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District as a lab tech and water sampler.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Illinois Women's Institute of Leadership (IWIL), Sierra Club, Society of Cosmetic Chemists, Chatham Avalon Park Community Council, The 6th Ward New Democrats, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and 8th Ward Women's Auxiliary Council

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

No

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None

Harold "Noonie" Ward
Political party: Republican
Birthdate: 5/13/1962
Occupation: Music producers/Noonie Records
Marital status: Married
Spouse:

Education:

Education: Associates degree in Business Management from Olive Harvey


I have run my own business. I have met payroll. I have bought insurance. I have made a profit. I am living the American dream. I had a catfish cafe. I had a car wash. I own a retail store. I have my own record label. I wrote my own biography. I am an author and publisher. I am a film maker. I have my own record label. I have worked with people like Kanye West and Common. I have contacts in the entertainment industry to teach the public about rain barrels, not flushing your prescription medicines down the toilet etc.

I am the ONLY candidate with an autobiography and a movie about my life. I am the ONLY candidate who knew President Obama when he was a community activist just out of college. I am the ONLY candidate who can get KANYE WEST AND COMMON on the phone. I am going to recommend raps and songs about water, water conservation, the environment and other issues.

The three specific initiatives that I would like to accomplish are: GREEN, GREEN, GREEN

1. Green construction on new buildings, existing buildings, continuing the existing green vehicles and expanding that and green practices for those companies doing business with the MWRD to include (but not limited to)
a) Green roofs (gardens on roofs--something that Mayor Daley did initiate well)
b) Hybrid vehicles for all vehicles unless precluded by law enforcement purposes or heavy construction
c) Permeable surface pavement for all parking lots, drive ways and surfaces areas--borrowing on a key idea of Commissioner Debra Shore
d) Solar Panels where feasible to be phased in over time so all of the MWRD buildings will be fueled by solar energy
e) new construction to be LEEDS certified
f) Recycling program
i) to borrow from Commissioner Frank Avila--to allow and encourage organic, locally grown and vegetarian and vegan cafeteria options--many of the Engineers and Scientists are Asians, East-Asians, Indians, Middle Easterners, etc
Some are Muslim, Hindus and Jains and they should have Halal, no pork options, as well as vegetarian and vegan options for the Jains.
For those who do eat meat it should be organic and locally grown.
I am an avid runner and am in very good shape for my age and try to practice what I preach in terms of health. I run, walk, exercise, get outdoors and eat right. This if done by a larger group of people will help water quality and decrease medications in the drinking water and run off from chemicals from agriculture and pollution from the animal factory farm industry.

2. Create an EVERY DIME, ONLINE, IN REAL TIME program where EVERY CHEQUE that is written is put online with a cheque number and amount and to whom (unless it is HIPPA protected or for a minor or certain number of other exceptions). There has to be complete transparency. President Terry O'Brien has run the MWRD as a fiefdom and dictatorship and silencing the more independent commissioners who I would ally with (Commissioners Frank Avila, Debra Shore, Maryiana Spyropolous and sometimes others). I want to make sure the MWRD meetings are videotaped and audio taped (they are available on the MWRD website currently) and put on CAN TV or the Municipal channel. We should use MP3 technology, Twitter, and Facebook to get more information about what goes on in the meetings out to the taxpayers. FOIA requests should be answered quickly and honestly. Contracting should be open and honest. The budget should be online in an easy and simple format with specifics. The budget should not only be online but every expenditure while it happens should be online: EVERY DIME, ONLINE, IN REAL TIME. I am working with Republicans on this issue. I would work with my running mate Carl Segvich, former candidate for governor Adam Andrzejewski and ask him for his help and Bruno Berhand from the Heartland institute.

DO A FORENSIC AUDIT ON THE MWRD AND THE MWRD PENSION SYSTEM.

3. PENSION REFORM: 1) New employees will have a 401K system with a guaranteed input but not a guaranteed output beyond a certain level--the MWRD pensions are out of control including pensions of $180,000 and $200,000 plus for the rest of their lives This is unsustainable. 2) Depoliticize the pension investments 3.) Create a fiduciary obligation for the pension board with punishments intact 4.) Put the pension investments and numbers online and have total transparency 5.) Make better investments 6.) Increase both employee and MWRD contributions 7.) Increase the age of retirement by just 2 years

I want to add a 2 more initiatives I would like to accomplish:
When the real estate market starts going up again: I WANT TO SELL OR LEASE THE MWRD DOWNTOWN OFFICE BUILDING AND USE THE BUILDING IN STICKNEY OR ANOTHER LOCATION FOR MEETINGS. There is no reason to have a Rush/Erie (1 block from Michigan Avenue) building for meetings and administration. We could make a lot of money selling the MWRD HQ building and the building across the street.

I WOULD MAKE A REAL EEO AND DIVERSITY PROGRAM AT THE MWRD AND INCREASE AFRICAN AMERICAN AND OTHER MINORITY EMPLOYMENT AND CONTRACTING.

I WANT AN INTERNAL AND FEDERAL INVESTIGATION HOW BRENDAN O'CONNOR GOT HIRED AS A LAWYER FOR THE MWRD.

I WANT AN INTERNAL AND FEDERAL INVESTIGATION OF CRIMINAL OR CIVIL ACTIONS AGAINST JACK FARNAN.

MIKE ALVAREZ SHOULD NOT BE THE PRESIDENT AFTER O'BRIEN LEAVES. THE PRESIDENT SHOULD BE AVILA OR SHORE. Alvarez has clients who are doing business at the District where is on the board (conflict of interest--possibly against the law) and is practicing patronage.

Civic, professional, fraternal or other affiliations:

Previous community and political experience: I ran for political office. I knew President Barack Obama when he was a community activist in Altgeld Gardens. I have worked anti-violence campaigns. I have also worked on clean and greens as well as anti-asbetos in public housing and cleaner water for minority communities. I have helped Commissioner Sims. I have helped State Senator Napolean Harris. I have helped Commissioner Jerry Butler. I helped Congressmen Jesse Jackson but am very disappointed in him. I have helped MWRD Commissioners Frank Avila and Debra Shore. I helped Tax Board of Review Commissioner Larry Rogers. State Senator Kirk Dillard. Governor Jim Edgar. Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica. President Barack Obama.

Have you held elective or appointive political office or been employed by any branch of government?

No

Please list jobs or contracts you, members of your immediate family or business partners have had with government.

None. My wife is a school teacher.

Campaign information
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Daley Thompson

Campaign headquarters: 20 S. Clark Street, Suite 400, Chicago, Illinois 60603
Website: patrickdthompson.com
Campaign manager:
Campaign budget: $100,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
William Daley $5,000
Matt Basil $5,000
J.B. Pritzker $5,000
Richard Sandor $5,000
Ronald Kaminski $5,000

Shore

Campaign headquarters: P.O. Box 4674, Skokie, IL 60077
Website: www.debrashore.org
Campaign manager: Eric Nelson
Campaign budget: $300,000 for the primary election, $30,000 for the general election
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
For the 2012 primary and general elections, my five biggest cumulative campaign contributors are
Fred Eychaner- $10,000
Andy Shore- $5,000
Rose Worldwide- $5,000
Kathleen Gillespie- $3,000
Prairie PAC- $3,000

Steele

Campaign headquarters: P.O. Box 198837 Chicago, IL 60619
Website: www.electkaristeele.com
Campaign manager: Shari Newman
Campaign budget: general election is approximately $15,000.00
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
Deborah Steele $16,522.41
John Steele $5,045.00
Larry Rogers, Sr. $6,208.11
Michael Alvarez $5,000.00
Millhouse Engineering $2,500.00

Ward

Campaign headquarters: 507 East 130th, Chicago, IL 60827
Website: October 1 the website will be fully operational. I am also on Facebook.
Campaign manager: James Jones
Campaign budget: $250,000
Name your five biggest campaign contributors and the amount they contributed.
TBD

What more should the district do to promote water conservation?
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Daley Thompson

We live in a unique and wonderful Great Lakes Water Basin where approximately 20 % of the world's fresh water is contained. It is a tremendous natural resource. However, I believe that water will be to the next 100 years as oil was to the last. Therefore, we must be vigilant and responsible with this water resource. We should focus on developing opportunities to utilize rain water as well as grey water the District currently discharges in to the watercourse and flows down the Mississippi River. Many industrial users are in need of water for manufacturing various products. Many times, that process does not require drinkable water and therefore perhaps the grey water can be utilized.

In addition, the District can further promote the usage of rain barrels and rain gardens to alleviate the need to use fresh water to water our lawns and plants. This will also assist with mitigating storm water runoff and flooding.

Water conservation efforts could also reduce the District's energy consumption, which would also be a good thing. I believe the District can do a better job communicatin with constituents and making people more conscious of conserving water.

Shore

A lot! For instance, toilets are some of the biggest water users in homes. Many wastewater agencies offer a toilet rebate program to encourage replacement of older, inefficient toilets with newer, dual-flush or low-flow toilets. The MWRD should explore such a program. The District should offer technical assistance to large water users to find ways to reduce their use. I'd like to see the District provide incentives for residential, commercial and industrial users to send less water to be treated as a result of conservation measures. The District should also develop a multi-faceted public education campaign promoting water conservation measures using its web site, social media, and community outreach.

Steele

The district can promote water conservation by simply spreading awareness about water conservation and the need to protect & preserve our natural resource, Lake Michigan. By reaching out to all communities and educating citizens on environmental issues concerning our water, the district can play a major role in Chicago's move to greater sustainability. I would like to see the district create literature to be distributed at community meetings that list simple water conservation tips. Water conservation tips for home owners can also be posted on the MWRD website and other social media outlets. Commissioners can visit Schools to educate students on how to incorporate water conservation into their daily routine. I have started spreading awareness about water conservation on my website www.electkaristeele.com; you can view over 100 "STEELE WATER TIPS" that you can practice and incorporate into your daily activities to conserve water.

Ward

Israel is my model for water conservation and I want to bring in some of the technology and techniques from Israel.

1. All new and existing construction at the district will be required to have GREEN ROOFS.
2. All new and were possible surface pavement and parking lots (drive ways etc) will have permeable service pavement.
3. Increase Rain Barrels distribution and use in ALL communities.

I have been researching green technologies including fusion energy and even the activities at CERN with the God particle. On a more practical level I have supported Boy Scouts and Churches in clean and greens, Recycle programs, camping and learning to protect the outdoors.

I opposed the Police range where the Bald Eagle habitat is.

I opposed the Black Box.

I supported disinfection.

I want to have a Religion and the Environment summit.

I have worked with some of the elected officials above on these issues.

What more should the district be doing to manage stormwater runoff and flooding? What more can the district do to keep runoff out of sanitary sewers?
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Daley Thompson

I believe storm water management is the number one issue facing the District. We have seen record flooding throughout Cook County in recent years. We must work to approve the Cook County Watershed Ordinance. The District should also accelerate the construction and completion of the Thornton and McCook Reservoirs which will mitigate the flooding caused by the severe storms. In addition, the District should utilize green technology such as rain barrels, rain gardens and permeable pavers to alleviate the storm water in our system.

As it relates to the use of green technology, the District should look at creating a source of funding to assist users of this type of technology. Creating partnerships with local government to encourage the local governments to lead on this issue is critical. An example would be to provide grants or loans to a local government so it can utilize permeable pavers when resurfacing the parking lot of a municipal building.

Shore

The District has identified numerous areas throughout Cook County with serious flooding and streambank erosion problems and has awarded contracts in the millions of dollars to support capital projects addressing these problems. I will be working for passage of a strong Watershed Management Ordinance that will set minimum standards for development and re-development on parcels of a certain size to reduce runoff, slow the flow of stormwater into sewers, and enhance water quality. The District has plans to increase substantially the distribution of rain barrels and to devote significant resources to green infrastructure projects -- a suite of approaches to capture rain where it falls and keep it out of the sewers.

Sanitary sewer overflows are a serious public health threat and the District has established a technical advisory group to work with municipalities on this issue. Infiltration and inflow (I/I) is one of the biggest challenges facing the MWRD -- and some estimates suggest that 80 percent of the problem is with private laterals leading from personal residences and businesses to the municipal sewers. I would like to see the MWRD establish a revolving loan fund to assist local municipalities and homeowners in remedying this problem by providing matching funds or low- or no-interest loans for repair of broken laterals and pipes. Years ago the MWRD had an aggressive program to work with municipalities to reduce infiltration and inflow but did not follow through (many downspouts that had been disconnected, for example, were subsequently re-connected by later homeowners). MWRD needs to partner with municipalities and develop a collaborative approach that is fair and effective. The District's new executive director has pledged to host a "sewer summit" with municipalities and work together to reduce I/I. This is a positive step.

Steele

It is important for all communities that the Board of Commissioners pass the stormwater-management ordinance for Cook County as soon as possible. There is also great demand for completion of TARP and the McCook Reservoir, and I support efforts to make their completion a top priority. As Commissioner, I would immerse myself in the details about the TARP and the McCook Reservoir schedule and work closely with my fellow Commissioners to gain their insight and expertise. It has been projected that completion of the projects will increase MWRD's storage capacity of storm water and waste water, resulting in a decrease of occurrences when untreated sewage overflows into the waterways of the Chicago land area.
The district can keep runoff out of sanitary sewers by increasing educational focus on what citizens and municipalities must do to assist in preventing flooding. One proposal I have to reduce the amount of rainwater running into sanitary sewers is to increase community outreach in educating homeowners about the issue. I suggest encouraging all residents and homeowners of Cook County to practice "volume control measures" to promote the options available to capture, retain, and infiltrate rainwater on-site. A few examples of these measures include constructing rain gardens, porous pavements, and rain barrels.

Ward

1. We have to complete the Deep Tunnel reservoirs as this issue is interrelated.
2. I want a forensic audit of the Deep Tunnel and the MWRD.
3. Municipalities and the City of Chicago need to work with us and modernize sewer systems.
4. I would encourage home owners to buy the pump.
5. There have been innovative actions in terms of stormwater runoff and flooding in China and India.


I agree with Commissioner Debra Shore when she said: "I intend to shepherd the proposed Watershed Management Ordinance to passage in 2012 following completion of an economic impact analysis requested by numerous municipalities. I anticipate that the MWRD Board will hold a public study session to discuss any changes to the draft ordinance and then will adopt it. I will be reaching out to municipalities, as well as community and conservation groups to make sure their voices are heard in support of a strong ordinance. The fact that so many Cook County residents have experienced severe flooding in recent years should help secure public support for these reasonable measures to reduce flooding and protect water quality in our rivers and streams. While the ordinance as drafted may not go "far enough" to encourage green infrastructure techniques and reduce flooding, it represents a very good start. I believe it is important to get an ordinance on the books and see how developers and municipalities are able to work with it. The ordinance can be amended in the future, based on experience on the ground, as both DuPage County and Lake County have amended their stormwater ordinances over the years."

Should the district expand its program to decontaminate wastewater to the rest of its facilities?
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Daley Thompson

I believe that we should expand the decontamination of wastewater to all of the facilities. The District is just now in the process of determining which technology to use for the decontamination. We will learn from this process as to which approach is best and most cost effective.

Shore

The District is installing disinfection equipment in two of its largest treatment plants for operation by March 2016. I believe it is prudent to assess the performance and cost of these facilities and approaches -- ultraviolet light at the North Side plant in Skokie, chlorination and dechlorination at the Calumet plant in Chicago -- before pursuing an installation at the world's largest treatment plant, namely the Stickney plant in Cicero. By taking the time to learn from the North Side and Calumet facilities and reviewing performance in wet weather and dry weather flows, I believe an eventual installation at Stickney will be more efficient and successful.

Steele

Yes, the district should move forward and expand its program to decontaminate wastewater to all treatment plants. North side and Lake Calumet treatment plants can serve as models for future changes at treatment plants not included in the recent disinfection decision.

Ward

Yes. But an even more important issue is how we treat waste water to deal with pharmaceutical drugs in the waste water. Something that Commissioner Frank Avila brought up in 2002 and his son Frankie Avila Jr brought up in 2004 and the Sierra Club brought up after that. This issue has not been dealt with adequately. The issue of "Fish on Prozac" is very serious and the top issue of disinfection/decontaminate our waste water and dealing with water quality.

I support the adoption of the water quality standards proposed by the EPA. Also, I am aware that the MWRD voted to do the water disinfection as required by the Federal EPA. I support the disinfection program and would of voted for it if I was a commissioner.
HOWEVER, I am concerned about 1) the funding--the Federal government and NOT the MWRD need to fund the disinfection and bring the Chicago waterways up to EPA water quality standards even if the MWRD is part of the implementation and 2) I have talked with some of the engineers and chemists at the MWRD off the record and they claim that the science is not their to support some of the EPAs claims. So we have to truly analyze the science and act logically and not just because of newspaper stories or political popularity. Some elements of the proposed standards, such as levels of dissolved oxygen in some stretches of the waterways, deserve careful scrutiny and may warrant adjustment. I believe they are the subject of ongoing discussion between MWRD and a number of conservation groups that have been parties to the rulemaking hearings conducted by the Illinois Pollution Control Board. These elements include dissolved oxygen, ways to enhance aquatic habitat, temperature, and, possibly, nutrients. I do believe that the MWRD will develop plans to improve water quality and aquatic habitat in the Chicago area waterways that will lead to a much-improved waterways and enhanced quality of life in the region (for people and fish).



I would work with Commissioners Avila, Spyropolous and Shore on this issue and bring in chemists and engineers.

What should the district do to help keep Asian carp and other invasive species out of Lake Michigan? Do you support the hydrological separation of the waterways?
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Daley Thompson

The debate over whether to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi basins is a very complex discussion. It is also the most extreme measure to reduce the Asian Carp and other invasive species from accessing Lake Michigan. There must be a thorough evaluation of the Army Corps of Engineer's Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study before decissions can be made.

I think we should continue to look at the best available methods to block the passage of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes. We should move to expedite the installation of interim barriers in rivers where no barriers currently exist. Further, we should look to enhance existing barriers and monitoring systems to prevent fish from crossing into the Great Lakes.

Shore

While we will not know for some time whether a hydrological separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi watersheds is feasible, the Water Reclamation District should begin preparing for water treatment upgrades at several plants so that the agency is ready to act if a separation is warranted or mandated. The District has more than 100 years of experience establishing much of the Chicago Area Waterways system, collecting reams of data, and monitoring flows in wet and dry weather. MWRD has provided data to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is conducting a major study of watershed separation and alternatives, and to the Great Lakes Commission and Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative for their separation study as well. In addition, the District has provided easements for the erection of a 13-mile long fence between the Des Plaines River and the Sanitary & Ship Canal to prevent overland passage of Asian carp and carp eggs during floods. I am intrigued by the idea of a hydrological or ecological separation of the watersheds -- and that doing so might be a way to re-engineer freight transport in this region -- but I need to know much more about the costs and benefits of such a separation in the various locations where it might occur.

Steele

I feel the closing of the locks to keep invasive species out of Lake Michigan might solve one issue, but will create several other issues. The District should initiate more innovative research and development to guard against invasive species. It would benefit the District to collaborate with other environmental agencies to stay abreast of changes that may affect our primary water source - Lake Michigan. This proactive approach can initiate trial testing, to give quicker solutions to pressing issues when they occur.
For the purpose of stopping Asian carp from reaching Lake Michigan, I support hydrological separation of the watersheds and support evaluating scenarios for separation points. Scientific testing has shown that this will be the most effective long-term solution. With ecological separation, there will still be occasions when invasive species can enter Lake Michigan.

Ward

1. Let us model and replicate other areas including deserts, other cities and states and nations with waterways. Israel is a big model for me.
2. Hawaii has done some excellent laws and enforcement on invasive species and plants. Tahiti has massive destruction just because of certain plants. Australia had massive destruction from rabbits. I would model the laws and enforcement of Hawaii especially under Ben Cayetano against invasive species.
3. I would hire fisherman to fish the Asian Carp and sell them, cook them and eat them including to Asians and Israelis that eat them.
4. I support the hydrological separation of the waterways but have some caveots and concerns.

I agree with Commissioner Debra Shore: "I support stopping the spread of invasive species between the Mississippi Watershed and the Great Lakes Watershed. If separating the watersheds is the best method for stopping invasive species transfer and it can be accomplished in a way that does not lead to increased flooding in Cook County, then it has my qualified endorsement. The U.S. Army Corp's study, as well as a joint study by the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, will help answer those questions. Until I am able to evaluate where a separation (or several points of separation) between the Lake Michigan and Mississippi watersheds are proposed and what the costs and benefits are of a separation at those points, I am not prepared to respond Yes or No. There are other pathways for Asian carp to reach the Great Lakes, not solely through the Chicago area waterways. Yet other invasive species are lined up and waiting to travel in both directions through the Sanitary & Ship Canal and the Cal-Sag Channel between the watersheds. I would be very interested to see if creating a hydrological separation prevents the passage of invasive species and may be a way to re-invent freight transport in the region. One hundred and twenty years ago, facing an imminent public health threat from contaminated drinking water, Chicago decided to dig a canal and reverse a river to flush Chicago's sewage downstream and protect its drinking water supply. It was a magnificent engineering feat and allowed Chicago to become a great metropolis. But reversing the river had unforeseen consequences. One was to establish a connection -- a pathway -- between the Lake Michigan watershed and the Mississippi that had hardly existed before. The other was to create a diversion of water from the Lake Michigan watershed to the Gulf of Mexico. One hundred and twenty years ago, no one knew what ecosystems were, or even to be cautious about invasive species. Now we know more, and I hope we bring more humility to our future endeavors -- about the limits of human agency and the effects of our hubris."

I also agree with Commissioner Avila that we should do what the Asians and Israelis have done: Fish and cook and eat the Asian carp.

Should the district do more to help in the recycling of "gray" water?
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Daley Thompson

As I mentioned above, the utilization of gray water is something the District should be focused on. By recycling the water, it assists with the District's conservation efforts while also reducing the energy costs of processing addition affluent. Other cities in the United States such as San Antonio and Los Angeles do this today. The District can also promote the availability of the gray water along with the land opportunities to manufacturing and industrial users. This may prove to be very attractive.

Shore

I believe the District has supported legislation directing the Illinois Dept of Public Health to develop standards for gray water use. District staff may be able to provide technical expertise to some of the groups working on this. I would like to explore ways that the District might provide incentives to residents and businesses that reduce the amount of water they send for treatment -- either through conservation measures or reuse.

Steele

Yes, the district should do more to help in the recycling of "gray" water, because recycling "gray" water will help conserve our fresh water. The district should investigate the options of building "gray" water systems at treatment plants to lead by example.

Ward

Yes.

Greywater is any household wastewater with the exception of wastewater from toilets, which is known as blackwater. Typically, 50-80% of household wastewater is greywater from kitchen sinks, dishwashers, bathroom sinks, tubs and showers. Of course, if you use a composting toilet, 100% of your household wastewater is greywater.

Freshly generated greywater is not as nasty as blackwater, but if it's not handled properly it can soon become so. Greywater decomposes at a much faster rate than blackwater and if stored for as little as 24 hours, the bacteria in it use up all the oxygen and the greywater becomes anaerobic and turns septic. After this point it is more like blackwater - stinky and a health hazard. In fact, many jurisdictions have strict regulations about disposal of greywater, some even require it to be treated as blackwater.

Not all greywater is equally "grey". Kitchen sink water laden with food solids and laundry water that has been used to wash diapers are more heavily contaminated than greywater from showers and bathroom sinks. Although greywater from these sources contains less pathogens than blackwater, many regulatory bodies consider it as blackwater.

The safest way to handle greywater is to introduce it directly to the biologically active topsoil layer, where soil bacteria can quickly break it down, rendering the nutrients available to plants. This biological water purification is much more effective than any engineered treatment, thus protecting the quality of groundwater and surface waters.

Benefits of Greywater Recycling For Irrigation

Reduce fresh water use - When the weather is warm, about half of the water consumed by the average household in North America is for outdoor use. Capturing the indoor greywater for use outdoors can cut water usage in half.


Reduce strain on septic system or treatment plant - Greywater makes up the majority of the household wastewater stream, so diverting it from the septic system extends the life and capacity of the system. For municipal systems, decreased input means more effective treatment coupled with cost savings.


Develop otherwise unsuitable real estate - A greywater recycling system, along with the use of composting toilets, can enable the development of property that is unsuitable for a septic system.


Groundwater Recharge - Greywater recycling for irrigation replenishes groundwater, helping the natural hydrologic cycle to keep functioning.


Plant growth - Greywater can support plant growth in areas that might otherwise not have enough water.


Maintain soil fertility - The nutrients in the greywater are broken down by bacteria in the soil and made available to plants. This helps to maintain soil fertility.


Enhance water quality - The quality of groundwater and surface waters are much better preserved by the natural purification processes the greywater undergoes in the top layers of the soil than by any engineered water treatment.


Satisfaction - The greywater user gets the satisfaction of direct participation in the responsible management of global nutrient and water cycles.
Greywater Irrigation May Not Be A Good Choice If:

Soil is not suitable - If your soil is either too permeable or not permeable enough, you may not be able to recycle your greywater, or you may need a system with some modifications.


Area too small - You need enough soil to process the greywater and enough plants to use it.


Climate unsuitable - If it's too wet to benefit from irrigating with greywater, there may be a better way to dispose of it. If it's too cold, you will only be able to recycle in the warmer months. In cold climates, the heat in greywater may be more valuable than the water itself. See Drain-water Heat Recovery.


Permit hassles - Many jurisdictions in North America have no clear guidelines regarding greywater processing. With water shortages looming in the near future for many regions, this may change sooner than later. Health concerns are often cited as the reason for not allowing greywater recycling, although there has never been a documented case of somebody becoming sick as a result of exposure to greywater.


Low cost/benefit ratio - Where legal requirements dictate a complex system and there is only a small flow of water, greywater recycling is not economically feasible.


Inconvenience - If the greywater system you are considering is more expensive and requires more maintenance than a properly functioning septic or sewer system.
To recycle greywater safely, users must understand the nature of the grey water itself as well as the natural cycles and processes involved in the purification of it. Each set of circumstances requires its own unique recycling system for optimum results.

For most residential purposes, low-tech, home made grey water systems tend to outperform and outlast expensive pre-made systems.

Greywater Recycling Health Concerns

Health risks are often cited by regulators as reasons for requiring high-tech expensive systems although there are no recorded instances of greywater--transmitted illness in the US. However, greywater may contain infectious organisms. Bear this in mind when designing and using a system. A poorly designed system could become a pathway for infecting people.

Two main principles for safety:

Greywater must pass slowly through healthy topsoil for natural purification to occur


Design your greywater system so no greywater-to-human contact occurs before purification (ie: passing through the soil or mulch basin)


Precautions

Prevent contact or consumption - Avoid accidental connections between freshwater and greywater plumbing
- Label greywater plumbing, including garden hoses

- Use gloves when cleaning greywater filters

- Wash your hands after contact with greywater
Microorganisms on plants - Don't apply untreated greywater onto lawns, or fruits and vegetables that are eaten raw (eg. strawberries, lettuce, carrots)


Breathing of microorganisms - Don't recycle untreated greywater with sprinklers. Droplets can evaporate leaving harmful microorganisms in the air where they can be breathed in


Use only greywater that is fairly clean to start with - Greywater containing water used to launder diapers or generated by anyone with an infectious disease should be diverted to a sewer or septic system


Don't store greywater - Use it within 24 hours before bacteria multiply. After 24 hours it is well on its way to becoming blackwater


Don't overload your system - If you're having company and your system is designed for 2 people, divert the greywater to the sewer or septic system for the evening


Chemical contamination - Don't buy household cleaning products you wouldn't want in your greywater system. Divert greywater containing harmful chemicals to the sewer or septic system
Prevent contamination of surface water - Discharge greywater underground or into a mulch filled basin
- Don't apply greywater to saturated soils

- Apply greywater intermittently so it has a chance to soak in and the soil can aerate between waterings

- Confine greywater to subsurface or mulch basins at least 15m from a surface waterway
Elements Of A Greywater Irrigation System

Greywater source(s) - Washing machine, shower, bathtub and/or sinks


Collection plumbing - Pipes that transport greywater from inside the house to just outside the house


Surge Tank, filter and pump - Optional elements that add complexity and cost but make the distribution plumbing's job easier


Distribution plumbing - Pipes that transport greywater from just outside the house to locations throughout the receiving landscape


Receiving landscape - Soil, roots, plants, and mulch basins that contain, cover, purify, and use the greywater


People - Those who design, make and maintain the system, generate the greywater, tend the garden and eat the food it produces. People are a critical but often overlooked component of the system

What are your plans for the large amount of real estate owned by the district? Should any of that land be sold or put to industrial use? Should it be given to another government agency?
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    ALL
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Daley Thompson

I think the District must complete its inventory and evaluation of its real estate holdings. Obviously certain land is critical to the District's operations, such as the land along the Sanitary Canals and adjacent to its filtration facilities. Based on the real estate study, the District will then be able to evaluate the best use of the land. I also believe that a comprehensive review of the District's real estate policies and processes for conveying land must be completed. State statute governs the conveyance of land but that may not be the best method for today's real estate demands.

As I mentioned above, the gray water and land may be attractive to industrial users. Since many of the parcels the District owns are in industrial areas, industrial use would seem to be an option.

The District does have the authority to convey property to another government agency. However, this would have to be done on a case by case basis. If District land can be utilized by a local government for an economic benefit that also is beneficial to the District and its tax payers, then that transaction should be evaluated.

Shore

The District will be conducting a comprehensive review of its land holdings and land policies over the course of the next year. As part of that review, we will be considering the value of various parcels from a variety of perspectives -- economic, recreational, habitat and ecological, stormwater and carbon sequestration potential, etc. Much of the District's land is already leased for industrial and commercial use and the revenue derived from those leases has increased substantially in the last two years -- benefiting Cook County taxpayers. The District has a long history of leasing property at little or no cost to other government agencies as long as the purpose is for public recreational use. This policy has worked well. I do not support giving District land to other government agencies. The District's real estate holdings were acquired with taxpayer funds and any future use should benefit the taxpayers and provide revenue in support of the District's core mission: protecting the drinking water supply for Cook County.

Steele

I'm not privy to all of the information regarding the land the District currently holds title to. However, I am aware of the economic constraints facing all governmental units. If MWRD owns land that we can transfer to other municipalities by an intergovernmental agreement, I would support that effort to promote conservation. I would also suggest that any sale stipulate that the future use would follow eco friendly guidelines, including rainwater recapture and runoff, permeable pavements and other green technology components.

Ward

The first thing the MWRD should do in terms of real estate is: SELL THE GOLD COAST PROPERTY WHEN THE REAL ESTATE MARKET INCREASES. There is no reason to have a Rush Street address (without any free parking to the public)--Sell the building or

Commissioners Frank Avila, Debra Shore and Spryopolous as well as former candidate Dean Maragos all have good ideas about land use. I really liked the idea that Dean Maragos had for land use in his 2004 and 2006 and 2008 campaigns for MWRD Commissioner.

The land use and leases need to be depoliticized. There cannot be a strong President (Terrence J. O'Brien) and weak rubber stamp board. You have to analyze land use on a case by case basis as well as set up a mission statement and plan guided by a philosophy of protecting the environment.

I believe in partnerships with municipalities and the Forest Preserve rather than giving away land.

I also agree with Commissioner Debra Shore (I would like to see Commissioner Debra Shore as President or Commissioner Frank Avila as President and not the political novice and machine backed Commissioner Michael Alvarez who is a hack) when she said: In the next year the MWRD will conduct a comprehensive review of its land holdings and land management policies. That review will provide a complete inventory, including any parcels that may be deemed surplus. That comprehensive review should include information about contiguous parcels, their ownership and status, so that if MWRD holdings are to be sold or leased, policies can be developed that reflect "highest and best use" and that include consideration of recreational use, habitat and conservation values, and potential for stormwater and carbon sequestration. I would like to see the MWRD collaborate with the Cook County Forest Preserve District on both land acquisition and habitat restoration. Regarding the former -- land acquisition -- the MWRD may be able to acquire lands, or partner in acquiring lands, that not only serve to reduce flooding by capturing and retaining stormwater runoff, but that also have potential for restoration, recreation, and habitat enhancement. As for habitat restoration, it may make sense in some areas of the county for the MWRD to devote some of its stormwater management resources to restoring areas of the forest preserves since healthy woodlands do a far better job of capturing and infiltrating stormwater runoff than degraded woodlands. I do not oppose the sale of surplus MWRD land for development, but I am wary of doing so. Forty years ago, as the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan was in its infancy, no one was talking or thinking about climate change -- yet now we are seeing a new kind of rainstorm: more intense, more localized, and less predictable. The District's lands may have value for carbon sequestration, or for capturing geothermal energy along lateral pipes (which only have to be dug 8 ft. down), that we cannot fully conceive of or anticipate today. There may be opportunities for development along the top of the canal banks that could benefit neighboring municipalities, provide recreational opportunities, and serve as demonstrations of best practices in stormwater management. These should be explored and carefully considered.

What would you do to expedite the permitting process? Can the district do a better job of reviewing proposed developments so that building projects by property owners are not unnecessarily delayed.
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    ALL
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
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    Ward
Daley Thompson

Permitting is always a concern with developers and builders. The District should analyze its processes to ensure it is providing the best quality and most effective service to property owners. This is a function of staff at the District but if there are policies the Board can approve that will effectuate better service, then the Board should consider them.

Shore

I will ask that a report be prepared for the Board of Commissioners on the District's permitting process, with specific information about delays and complaints. The District should explore adopting a "fast-track" permitting process for developments that employ Best Management Practices for stormwater management and water conservation.

Steele

Once elected to the board, I would immerse myself into the details of the permitting process and collaborate with the other Commissioners about what can be done to expedite the permit process.

Ward

The 2nd question: "Can the district do a better job of reviewing proposed developments so that building projects by property owners are not unnecessarily delayed." can be answered YES.

1. Depoliticize the process.
2. Do Environmental Impact Studies.
3. The MWRD needs to streamline their process and hire better people.

The district covers an area occupied by a large number of municipalities. What will you do to better hear the voices of those municipalities and to be visible within those communities?
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    ALL
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    Daley Thompson
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    Shore
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    Steele
  • [ + ]
    Ward
Daley Thompson

I have already been meeting with many suburban mayors and stake holders to better understand their concerns. I will continue to meet with these municipalities on a consistent basis to make sure that all communities are represented. I also believe that we can learn from one another. Many of these municipalities are already leading in the area of conservation and utilization of green technology. We can partner on projects as I suggested above.

Shore

I have organized several Town Hall meetings -- in Des Plaines and Orland Park -- at my own initiative to inform people about the work of the District and to listen to their concerns. The District should hold community meetings in different areas of the county on a regular basis and I will work to establish these in my next term. I have also proposed that each member of the board attend one meeting a month of a village or city board (such that, over the course of a year, the MWRD nine-member board might visit nearly every municipality in the country, supplemented by senior staff). I have been a frequent participant in the Watershed Planning Council meetings organized by the Councils of Government and plan to continue attending those and I have met with a number of mayors. I also have spoken to many church, neighborhood, senior and Rotary clubs and will continue to do so.

Steele

I will stay involved in various community organizations and have an open door policy to make sure I'm accessible to constituents. I will have public office hours, attend community meetings, and maintain relationships with other elected officials to ensure I'm aware of the issues that need to be addressed in the board room.

Ward

I will hold town hall meetings. I will do outreach to the different communities. I will have an active Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Youtube account and other social media. I will meet with each Mayor of every city that the MWRD covers. I will meet with community leaders. I will meet with local, community and ethnic media.

I have run my own business. I have met payroll. I have bought insurance. I have made a profit. I am living the American dream. I had a catfish cafe. I had a car wash. I own a retail store. I have my own record label. I wrote my own biography. I am an author and publisher. I am a film maker. I have my own record label. I have worked with people like Kanye West and Common. I have contacts in the entertainment industry to teach the public about rain barrels, not flushing your prescription medicines down the toilet etc.

I am the ONLY candidate with an autobiography and a movie about my life. I am the ONLY candidate who knew President Obama when he was a community activist just out of college. I am the ONLY candidate who can get KANYE WEST AND COMMON on the phone. I am going to recommend raps and songs about water, water conservation, the environment and other issues.

The three specific initiatives that I would like to accomplish are: GREEN, GREEN, GREEN


The performance of inclusion of African Americans at the MWRD is a F for FAILURE. The performance for contracting for African Americans is a failure. The performance African American hiring is a F.

I believe there are many things the MWRD is doing right as well. However, I am concerned about the following that they are doing wrong: a) 45% unfunded pension liability (approximately and changing) b) short term debt and c) the pension debt in the future. The Bond rating is good. The budget cutting is good. The Engineering and scientific staff are good. Commissioners Avila, Shore and Spyropolous are good.
The MWRD is generally a well run agency with a AAA bond rating and recent cuts in budget and capital expenditures. The engineering and scientific parts of the MWRD are very good. However, the legal, the management, the public affairs and commissioners staff are not well run. The legal department is bloated and refuses to settle law suits that clearly need to be settled (for example the issue with the Ritz Carlton is ridiculous). The public affairs has a staff that seems to do nothing with political relationships. The contracting system has been political with Speaker Madigan controlling part of it through Darlene LoCasio and Terry O'Brien letting Mayor Daley run wild with 11th ward precinct captain Jack Farnan as the former General superintendent. Even though there is civil service hiring with tests by state law--there are too many political hires and relations to Commissioners and ex-employees on the payroll. One example in the legal department is there are 2 brothers (Chris and Jim Murray) who both were hired supposedly by a blind objective test system--there father was a lawyer at the MWRD. MWRD Attorney Brendan O'Connor also supposedly got hired by a blind objective merit test system but it is interesting that he got hired AFTER he ran for Commissioner at the behest of President Terrence J. O'Brien to take Commissioner Patricia Young out of that position AND he donated to President O'Brien's campaign coffers violating state law. Attorney Brendan O'Connor does not represent the best and brightest attorneys and clearly there is a fix in the system for some of these jobs. There are relatives of former Commissioner Harry "Bus" Yourrell, Commissioner Gloria Alito Majewski, Commissioner Kathy Meany and others in civil service positions. Jack Farnan allowed the same trucking companies that were involved in the Hired Trucks scandal into the MWRD. Jack Farnan physically assaulted a Civil Service commissioner and it was swept under the rug. The hiring of Brendan O'Connor needs to be investigated. The Black Box should have never happened. There needs to be a real EEOC and Diversity program.

Again, the financial status of the MWRD is good but not great and we need to deal with the short term debt and long term pension funding. The engineering and scientific staff is very good. The MWRD needs to increase minority involvement in hiring and contracting. The amount of minorities especially African Americans at the MWRD is a disgrace including construction projects in our own neighborhoods.

The candidates
Dave Ehrlich

Dave Ehrlich

NasrKhalili

Nasrin Khalili

Karen Roothaan

Karen Roothaan

Carl Segvich

Carl Segvich

DebrShore

Debra Shore

Kari K. Steele

Kari K. Steele

Patrick D. Thompson

Patrick D. Thompson

Harold 'Noonie' Ward

Harold "Noonie" Ward

 

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The office

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District operates seven water reclamation plants and 23 pumping stations, largley in Cook County. The district also controls 554 miles of sewers and 76.1 miles of navigable waterways.

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