Member Spotlight: Why Water Matters
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Posted by: Catherine Game
Mariyana Spyropoulos is President of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago Board of Commissioners and attended the recent Confluence, a regional Chicago Wilderness water summit.
Water experts and partners gathered from across the region identify to strategize the role for collaboration in addressing our most pressing water challenges. Confluence fueled the momentum for tackling water issues and defeating barriers.
We interviewed Mariyana for her perspective on regional water issues.
Q: Confluence was all about regional water issues. With Lake Michigan in our backyard, why should our region be concerned about water?
A: Water concerns are not just about WATER supply. While we likely won't see Lake Michigan running dry, a polluted water source would have the same effect. Our region depends on Lake Michigan as a clean source of water, and we have to work to maintain that quality or risk losing this valuable asset.
Q: You spoke at Confluence about the importance of stormwater. Why is stormwater a big deal?
A: Stormwater put pressure on our sewer systems, increasing potential for combine sewer overflows and localized flooding. By properly managing the storage and conveyance of stormwater, and by exploring stormwater reuse opportunities, we can combat flooding and protect our water environment.
Q. In the perfect world, how would you tackle water issues?
A: In a perfect world, we would start early by educating our children on the importance of water and practicing conservation. We would invest heavily in our aging infrastructure and new technologies to further the use of recoverable resources.
Q: How is MWRD approaching solutions to water issues?
A: In addition to major infrastructure projects like TARP, MWRD is focusing on green infrastructure solutions such as rain barrels, permeable surfaces and rain gardens to help solve water issues on the front end.. We have been focusing on public outreach so that communities can fully understand the need for investment in water quality.
Q: Are you concerned about the role of climate change in water issues?
A: Climate change certainly has an effect on our water environment. We are experiencing increase in both the volume and intensity of rain events in Cook County. This increased rain not only leads to more flooding, but also takes a toll on our aging infrastructure.
Q: How is collaboration important in dealing with water issues?
A: Collaboration is essential to solving our water issues. MWRD has relied on partnerships with municipalities, community groups, businesses, and residents to utilize investment resources, expertise and creativity to ensure success in water projects throughout Cook County.
Water as a Resource is one of six focus areas for Chicago Wilderness.