Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting - May 5, 2016
Major Items Discussed:
Restore the Canopy; Plant a Tree Program. Executive Director David St. Pierre asked the Board to help publicize that the MWRD is giving away 100,000 18 inch oak saplings to municipalities, community groups, and schools to distribute and plant throughout Cook County. Individuals can also pick up the free trees every Wednesday from 9 am to 12 noon at the Calumet, Egan, Hanover Park, Kirie, O’Brien, and Stickney Water Reclamation Plants, and during the public tours and open houses at these plants on Saturday, May 21. To find out more, contact the MWRD Office of Public Affairs at email@example.com or at 312-751-6633. Trees provide rain absorption (helping to reduce flooding) and a canopy that reduces city heat island effects. They can also absorb carbon gasses and produce oxygen.
Free Rain Barrel Program. The Board approved an increase in the contract for the furnishing and administration of the rain barrel program by $1.3 million from $2.5 million to $3.8 million. Agenda item 31, #16-0453. This will only carry the program to September, and Executive Director St. Pierre said that he will be coming back to the Board for additional money to continue the program to the end of 2016. Based on the discussion, this observer understands that there had been a consent decree under which the Board had agreed to distribute 15,000 rain barrels at no charge, but had also separately authorized the program through 2017. To date, approximately 45,000 rain barrels have been distributed. Several Commissioners asked for a study session to discuss whether to continue the program beyond 2016 and whether there would be a better use for the money currently being spent on the program. It was noted by Commissioners that if the decision is to end the program, then there needs to be lots of communication with the public about this. Executive Director St. Pierre said that the MWRD would probably continue to make rain barrels available at a charge in that case.
Other items of note:
New Rules on Public Comments in Effect. As discussed in prior Eyewitness Reports, this was the first meeting that the new rules limiting public comments to the beginning of the meeting went into effect. The presiding officer does have the discretion to allow comments at other times. At this meeting, citizen George Blakemore spoke at the beginning, prior to the convening of the Committee of the Whole (and he complained about the reduction this new rule has on public participation as compared to the old rules), and then again after the Board reconvened prior to the meeting ending (when he stated the Board members should be doing more to get the public to attend the meetings). This observer is seeking clarification on the rules from MWRD Staff.
Partnership Agreement with DuPage County Stormwater Management, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, and the DuPage River Salt Creek Work Group to facilitate the sharing of resources and responsibilities to better protect the West Branch of the DuPage River and the Salt Creek watershed in a responsible manner. There was no discussion of this agreement, but it was approved, and appears to this observer as a positive step to utilize the collective expertise to promote cost efficient resource allocations among the parties, which is the mission of the partnership.
Priscilla Mims - Observer
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