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Down by the River: A Look at District Research Relating to the Chicago Area Waterway System and Other Local Receiving Streams

Judith Moran-Andrews, P.E.

Principal Civil Engineer

Monitoring and Research Group

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago


The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (District) was first formed in 1889 as the Sanitary District of Chicago. Since the reversal of the Chicago and Calumet Rivers, in which construction began in 1892, the District has continued to build infrastructure that protects the health and safety of the public in its service area, protects the quality of the water supply, and improves the quality of water in watercourses in its service area. Today, the District owns and operates seven water reclamation plants within Cook County, that treat collected wastewater prior to discharge into the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) or other local receiving streams.

The District has been monitoring the CAWS and other local receiving streams since the 1970s. Types of monitoring conducted include ambient water quality, continuous dissolved oxygen, and biological monitoring. With more advanced treatment occurring at the water reclamation plants, improvements in the quality of the waterways can be seen from the data. The District continues its efforts at improving water quality through ongoing research into new treatment processes, new monitoring technologies, and more in-depth evaluations of the impacts of some processes.

Judy Moran-Andrews has been with the District for over 10 years in the Monitoring and Research Department. She spent over eight years as an Environmental Research Scientist, working on applied research at the treatment plants mostly related to process optimization and performing technology evaluations for plant improvements. Her current role is Principal Civil Engineer in the Process Facilities Capital Planning Section, which is responsible for long term capital planning of the District’s treatment plants. Prior to working for the District, Judy was an engineer with a consulting firm and focused on drinking water treatment.