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Editorial: Metropolitan Water Reclamation District should focus on green agenda

Boating Chicago River was one way people tried stay cool this very hot day lst July.   |

Boating on the Chicago River was one way people tried to stay cool on this very hot day lst July. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: February 5, 2013 6:22AM

Overshadowed by the political attention focused on Springfield this week, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District on Thursday picked a new president for the first time in 16 years.

The district’s commissioners unanimously chose Kathleen Therese Meany, who has been on the board since 1990, to replace Terrence J. O’Brien, who had been president since 1997.

With a new president and three new board members elected on Nov. 6, this is an opportunity for the board to commit itself to taking a strong lead on regional environmental issues.

† The board should enact a watershed management ordinance to reduce flooding and water pollution in Cook County.

† It should continue to prioritize the completion of the long-running Tunnel and Reservoir Project, which is needed to stop combined sewer system overflows from sending untreated sewage into waterways and Lake Michigan.

† It should ensure that its wastewater disinfection program — adopted just last year after a long battle — stays on track.

† It should push a program already under way to remove nutrients such as phosphorus from the treated wastewater to improve water quality and to get more dissolved oxygen into the water.

† It should find ways to capture and reuse biogas to reduce energy use at its treatment plants.

† It should do more to encourage people and businesses to keep runoff out of the system by using rain barrels or other “green engineering” techniques.

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