Follow @csteditorialsYou won’t see this spelled out on the ballot, but voters in races for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District have a chance to opt for cleaner waterways, fewer sanitary sewer overflows, less runoff pollution and more “green” infrastructure.
Spyropoulos, Morita and Roothaan are running for the three six-year terms on the ballot. Schumann is running to fill the remaining two years of Patrick Daley Thompson’s term, which came open last year after Thompson left to become Chicago’s 11th Ward alderman.
In recent years, the water district has taken a greater leadership role in improving the quality of Chicago area waterways. It has begun disinfecting effluent at two of its water-treatment plants and opened the world’s largest phosphorus-recover facility. It is working with other government agencies on green infrastructure, which absorbs water on site instead of channeling it directly into storm sewers. That reduces the frequency and severity of sanitary sewer overflows and cuts down on the amount of pollutants carried into waterways by runoff.
Spyropoulos, the MWRD president, has been a leader in moving the district in an environmentally responsible direction and in taking a leadership role in regional stormwater management. She favors expanding the disinfection program and encouraging other government agencies to reduce road salt runoff into waterways.
Morita, an urban planner who sits on the Skokie Plan Commission, is an advocate for a range of environmental strategies, including wetland restoration, reducing the acreage in the county covered by hard surfaces, such as parking lots, and finding safe ways to reuse “gray” water that is not of drinking quality but that can be put to other uses before it goes down the drain.
Roothaan, a part-time mathematics teacher, is focusing in part on reducing the contaminants such as hormones and drugs that remain in wastewater and sludge even after treatment at MWRD plants. She also would go after industrial tenants who, while renting MWRD land, release pollutants into the waterways.
Schumann, as a respected former member of the Cook County Board and president of the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, has broad public policy experience. He would push to install phosphorus recovery at all MWRD plants and would encourage the district to coordinate with the Cook County forest preserves to improve recreational use of its open land.
Also running for the three six-year terms are incumbent Democrat Barbara McGowan, the MWRD vice president, and Green Party candidates George Milkowski and Michael Smith. No Republicans are running for the open six-year terms. Running against Schumann for the two-year term are Democrat Martin J. Durkan and Green Party candidate Christopher Anthony.