Jan 14, 2014

MWRD, Department of Justice Consent Decree Approved

Judge Marovich says Tunnel and Reservoir Plan is “impressive, not unreasonable”

MWRD Department of Justice Consent Decree Approved TARP

More than two years after the U.S. District Court and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) reached an agreement on the MWRD’s long-term control plan, Judge George M. Marovich has approved and entered the consent decree.

Originally filed in December 2011, there were two groups of interveners that opposed the entry of the proposed consent decree. Two of the issues raised by these groups were the length of the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) construction schedule and the amount of green infrastructure included in the decree.

The judge’s opinion concluded that the consent decree is in the public’s best interest. He recognized that, “Tremendous public-works projects can take a significant amount of time—even decades—to complete. TARP is no small project. It has involved creating more than 100 miles of tunnels and mining rough holes that will eventually be large enough to hold 17.5 billion gal of water. By the time TARP is finished, MWRD will have added an average of 323,000,000 gal of storage capacity per year, which is an average of 885,000 GPD of additional storage capacity. That is impressive, not unreasonable.”

One section of the consent decree is designed to foster the use of green infrastructure (GI) controls. GI controls are relatively new technologies that help reduce the amount of storm water that flows into the sewer system during a storm. The MWRD will implement GI controls that capture, on a per storm event basis, 2 MG of capacity five years after the effective date, 5 MG 10 years after the effective date and 10 MG 15 years after effective date. The opinion recognizes that green infrastructure projects are not mandated as part of the TARP plan and are not required by any law. 

The consent decree provides an enforceable schedule for implementing the MWRD’s TARP, which will result in a significant decrease in the volume of water discharged to the waterways from combined sewer overflows in Cook County, along with dramatically reducing the potential for flooding. MWRD is committed to executing this work as quickly as possible.