Monthly Archives: March 2016

March 30th, 2016

MWRD’s disinfection project to make the Chicago River safer for recreation

Ribbon Cutting at the MWRD O'Brien Water Reclamation Plant in Skokie, IL on March 23, 2015

Ribbon Cutting at the MWRD O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant in Skokie, IL on March 23, 2015


Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) officially brought their disinfection project at the O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant online last week.  After nearly a decade of legal battles fighting federal regulations, MWRD agreed in 2011 to install UV equipment to neutralize microbes in the water before it’s released into the North Shore Channel.

Last year, levels of fecal coliform bacteria in the wastewater discharged from this plant averaged 8,449 colony forming units (CFUs) and spiked as high as 210,000 CFUs last year. Illinois’ standard for recreational waterways that are ‘fishable and swimmable’ is 200 CFUs.  The disinfection process won’t reduce the CFUs to a low enough level to make the river safe for fishing or swimming, but will dramatically reduce the health risks for kayakers, canoers, and others who use the Chicago River recreationally.  Fecal coliform bacteria can cause diarrhea, nausea, eye infections and skin rashes if ingested or enter the body through open cuts.

The O’Brien WRP now includes a third treatment stage to its wastewater process:

  1. Primary treatment – screens, settling tanks and other physical processes
  2. Secondary treatment – biological and physical processes
  3. Disinfection treatment – seven channels with 896 powerful UV light bulbs

This plant has the capacity to treat over 450 million gallons per day.

An earlier blog post highlighted a WBEZ ‘Curious City’ story about Chicago’s wastewater treatment process which gives more details about the primary and secondary treatments listed above.

“It’s great this is finally happening,” said Ann Alexander, a senior attorney for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the groups that pushed for years to start treating the Chicago River like other U.S. waterways. “But there is a whole lot of work still to be done to make the river as safe and pleasant as we know it can be someday.”

More photos and a video from the disinfection program’s ribbon cutting ceremony can be found on MWRD’s Facebook page.

Source:  “Chicago River cleanup makes water safer for recreation,” March 21, 2016, Chicago Tribune.

March 23rd, 2016

Five Steps to Obtaining a No Further Remediation (NFR) Letter after a Tank Leaks

If you’re interested in purchasing a property with a Leaking IEPA-logoUnderground Storage Tank (LUST) Incident, or you currently own a property with an open LUST Incident, the steps for satisfying the Illinois EPA (IEPA) to officially close your site may be confusing.

The goal of the LUST program is to obtain a No Further Remediation (NFR) Letter from the IEPA, which signifies that this leaking tank is no longer a threat to health or the environment. If you’re purchasing or refinancing your property, most lenders will require this NFR letter to satisfy their environmental due diligence requirements.

IEPA lays out the five steps to follow to obtain this NFR Letter:

  • Early Action:  Within 45 days of a LUST Incident being declared, the owner must take action to prevent any additional leaking from the UST.  This may involve pumping out the tank, removing the UST, or properly abandoning the UST.   The owner must also characterize the initial extent of any contamination through soil sampling, either via excavation samples (if removing the UST) or soil borings (if UST will remain in place, either operating or abandoned).
  • Stage 1 Site Investigation: If contamination above IEPA limits exists, IEPA then requires soil sampling around the UST, plus groundwater sampling if groundwater is encountered.
  • Stage 2 Site Investigation:  If contamination is discovered during the initial Stage 1 analysis, IEPA requires additional on-site soil and/or groundwater sampling to determine the extent of the contamination.  Soil gas sampling for potential vapor intrusion may also be required.  Stage 2 may involve several rounds of sampling, depending on the size of the property and spread of contamination.
  • Stage 3 Site Investigation:  If contamination exists at the site boundary, IEPA also requires off-site sampling to determine if the contamination has migrated onto nearby properties.
  • Corrective Action: Depending on the extent of contamination discovered during the Site Investigation stages, IEPA may require various Corrective Action strategies, including:
    • If vapor intrusion exists, installation of Building Control Technology (BCT)
    • Site use restrictions
    • Engineered barriers
    • Groundwater use restrictions
    • UST removal
    • Contaminated soil removal
Due to Illinois’ risk-based TACO regulations, most LUST Incidents can obtain an NFR Letter without active remediation.
If you have questions about how Gabriel can help you close your LUST Incident and obtain an NFR Letter, contact Nancy Valenta at 773-486-2123 or nvalenta[at]gabenv.com.
March 15th, 2016

It’s “Fix A Leak Week”

The Facts on Leaks Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, so each year EPA urges homeowners and businesses to hunt down the drips during Fix a Leak Week (March 14-20, 2016).

The Facts on Leaks:

  • The average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.
  • Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons annually nationwide. That’s equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes.
  • Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
  • Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable.
  • Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.
  • Keep your home leak-free by repairing dripping faucets, toilet flappers, and showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts don’t require a major investment.
  • Most common leaks can be eliminated after retrofitting a household with new WaterSense labeled fixtures and other high-efficiency appliances.


Learn more at the EPA’s Fix A Leak Week website.

March 9th, 2016

National Association of Environmental Professionals – Annual Conference

NAEP logo

The 2016 National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) Conference will be held in Chicago this year, April 11-14th.

Programs offered include:

  • Keynote speaker: Cameron Davis, US EPA Region 5 Senior Advisor, Great Lakes Initiative
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshop
  • National Park Service: Natural Sounds and Night Skies
  • Climate Change
  • Cultural Resources
  • Ecosystems
  • Energy
  • Great Lakes
  • Public Involvement
  • Remediation
  • Sustainability
  • Transportation
  • Water Resources
  • Visual Resources

This conference will be held at the Palmer House Hilton hotel.

More information and registration can be found on NAEP’s website.

March 2nd, 2016

Join Gabriel at the upcoming Commercial Deal Makers Forum

Gabriel’s Executive Vice President Steve Sawyer will be a featured MORe-logopanelist at the upcoming Commercial Deal Maker’s Forum sponsored by Mainstreet Organization of Realtors.

Join Gabriel for an informative commercial networking and interactive round table event.  Topics include:

  • Environmental Concerns – Steve Sawyer, CHMM – Gabriel Environmental Services
  • Property Management – John LeTourneau, Coldwell Banker
  • Branding Yourself on Social Media – Brian Palm, Palm Real Estate Ventures
  • Due Diligence – Thomas Jaros, Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC
  • SBA for Commercial Lending – Wells Fargo
  • Legislative Environmental of Illinois – Erik Breila, Illinois Department of Commerce


Monday, March 21, 2016

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Harry Caray’s Lombard

70 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, IL

$35, includes cocktails and heavy appetizers


Additional information and registration available at the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors event page.