Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting
Afternoon study session focused on the MWRD’s Capital Improvements budget for 2017.
October 20, 2016
President Spyropoulos called the meeting to order at 10:30 am, and ended proceedings at noon. A PUBLIC HEARING on the MWRD’s proposed Capital Budget for 2017 was held following the Board meeting.
Highlights from the Board meeting:
PUBLIC HEARING ON THE MWRD’s POPOSED CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN for 2017:
The MWRD released its draft 2017 Budget on October 11, 2016, and this study session was the first opportunity Commissioners had to question staff on the capital improvement plan described in the budget draft. Staff is proposing a $1.131 billion budget, which translates into roughly $117.27 per $100,000 of assessed value for real property tax payers in Cook County. The taxpayer burden is unchanged from 2016, but the full budget appropriation is $112 million (9%) less than in 2016, largely because of a decrease in the Capital Improvements Bond Fund.
To view a copy of the MWRD 2017 Budget click HERE
Dr. Catherine O’Connor, Director of Engineering, presented the MWRD’s $348 Capital Improvement Program, based on the MWRD’s strategic business plan, which strives to add value, achieve excellence, recover resources, and lead partnerships. She noted the $348 million in capital appropriations requested will support “2,500 good union jobs in our service area.”
Add value: Ms. O’Connor noted that the indoor sludge thickening plant at Stickney “smells like roses” (cost: $162.2 million) has added value by reducing neighborhood odors and concentrates bio solids. She detailed dozens of similar improvements, including a $35 million project to improve the pump station in Calumet, a $43 million project to rehab the Salt Creek Intercepting Sewer, and the $107 million investment in the McCook Reservoir Des Plaines inflow tunnel, slated to be completed in fall of 2019.
The MWRD only very recently gained legislative authority to participate in voluntary buyouts of repeatedly-flooded residential properties as a flood control measure. Director O’Connor detailed a plan to buy out 163 homes in flood prone areas between 2017 and 2019 at an estimated cost of $43 million. The MWRD’s portion of these buyouts is less than 100%, with federal and local dollars supplementing the Agency’s contributions. Ms. O’Connor said the buyouts are less expensive than engineered flood-control solutions. DesPlaines will see the largest number of buyouts – about 42 homes in two different phases. The MWRD will pay only 24% of the cost of the DesPlaines residential property acquisitions. Riverside Lawn, Stone Park, and Franklin Park will also see more than 30 flood prone homes purchased and torn down through agency partnerships.
Leveraging Partnerships: The MWRD seeks to leverage its stormwater dollars using strategic partnerships. The largest of these is a $25 million contribution to the City of Chicago’s $57 million tunnel project that will divert stormwater overflow from the North Branch of the Chicago River in the city’s Albany Park neighborhood to the North Shore Channel near Lincolnwood. This is a flood control project that does not address water quality improvement.
Resource recovery: The MWRD has recently focused more intently on profiting from resource recovery at its treatment plants.
Observer: Laurie Morse
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting - October 6, 2016
President Spyropoulos called the 10:30 meeting to order at 10:50 am, and ended proceedings at noon. Public Speaker, Mr. George Blakemore, passionately questioned how a one-term MWRD Commissioner (no longer in office) could receive free lifetime health insurance from the district. No one at the meeting responded to this comment.
Significant Decisions Made:
Observer: Laurie Morse
Individual authors are credited at the end of each report.