April 12th, 2017

Enjoy MWRD’s Open House – May 20, 2017

As part of their ‘Infrastructure Week,’ Metropolitan Water ReclamationMWRD color District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is opening up six of its water reclamation plants (WRP) for free open houses and tours on May 20, 2017.

Visitors can tour any of the following plants:

  • Calumet WRP, 400 E. 130th St., Chicago
  • Egan WRP, 550 S. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg
  • Hanover Park WRP, 1220 Sycamore Av., Hanover Park
  • Kirie WRP, 701 Oakton St., Des Plaines
  • O’Brien WRP, 3500 Howard St., Skokie
  • Stickney WRP, 6001 W. Pershing Rd., Cicero

MWRD will also be giving away free trees and compost, while supplies last. All ages welcome. No open-toed shoes.

More information can be found on MWRD’s Facebook page.

March 29th, 2017

New Chicago Water Tax In Effect in 2017

Chicago’s new water tax is city of chicago sealofficially in effect. Starting with the March 2017 bill, all residents and businesses in Chicago will see a new water-sewer tax charge on their monthly utility bill.

Chicago’s water-sewer taxes approved
for the next 4 years:

  • 2017: $0.59/1000 gallons
  • 2018: $1.28/1000 gallons
  • 2019: $2.01/1000 gallons
  • 2020: $2.51/1000 gallons

This tax is in addition to the water/sewer fees that Chicagoans
already pay and is expected to help pay for part of Chicago’s
pension debt.

EPA’s WaterSense website lists some easy ways to reduce water usage:

  • Replace older toilets with a WaterSense labeled toilet:
    WaterSense toilets use only 1.28 gallons per flush or
    less. Standard toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush. Older
    toilets can use as much as 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush.
  • Replace showerheads with WaterSense labeled models:
    WaterSense showerheads use 2.0 gallons of water per
    minute or less. Standard faucets use 2.5 gallons of
    water or more.
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving:
    A bathroom faucet generally runs at 2 gallons per
    minute. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or
    shaving can save a person more than 200 gallons per
  • Replace older washing machines with a high-efficiency model:
    High-efficiency washing machines use less than 27
    gallons per load. Standard models can use up to 54
    gallons per load.

Gabriel can also help commercial and industrial facilities assess their water usage to determine if any water savings may be achieved. Contact our Water Department at 773-486-2123 or water[at]gabenv.com to discuss Gabriel’s water saving audits.

More information about the water tax can be found on the City of Chicago’s Finance webpage.

October 12th, 2016

Drug Take-Back Day – October 22nd, 2016


The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is coming up on October 22, 2016.  This U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) initiative aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

Prescription drugs that are flushed down the drain or trashed in a landfill ultimately end up polluting the nation’s waterways.  Water treatment systems are not equipped to remove medications and chemicals, so rivers, streams, and drinking water supplies can be affected.

To locate a collection site near you, visit the DEA’s National Take-Back day website:


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.

January 15th, 2016

Flint, Michigan under investigation for poisoned water

Flint city employee flushes out a hydrant.  Photo from CNN.com

Flint city employee flushes out a hydrant. Photo from CNN.com

In a cost-cutting move two years ago, the city of Flint, MI switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Unfortunately, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) did not take into account that water from the river has 8 times more chloride than the lake water, which makes it highly corrosive. MDEQ failed to treat this river water with an anti-corrosive agent, so it started eroding the old iron and lead water pipes throughout Flint, leading to water coming into homes with lead, iron, and other contaminants.

Laboratory results lead by an independent Virginia Tech investigation have found that Flint homes have significant levels of lead.  No level of lead in drinking water is considered safe for children to consume, and EPA requires municipal action if more than 10% of customer taps exceed 15ppb lead concentrations.

Lead poisoning can lead to very serious health consequences and is irreversible.  Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was the first physician in Flint to speak out about the health effects of the contaminated water her patients were drinking.

“If you were to put something in a population to keep them down for generation and generations to come, it would be lead,” Hanna-Attisha said. “It’s a well-known, potent neurotoxin. There’s tons of evidence on what lead does to a child, and it is one of the most damning things that you can do to a population. It drops your IQ, it affects your behavior, it’s been linked to criminality, it has multigenerational impacts. There is no safe level of lead in a child.”

State of Emergency

The State of Michigan has now declared a State of Emergency for Flint, and the National Guard is heading door-to-door to hand out bottled water and water filters.  Flint has switched its water source back to Lake Huron, but the corroded pipes are still leaching lead, iron, and other contaminants into the water supply.

Michigan’s Attorney General and the federal Environmental Protection Agency have opened up investigations to determine who is responsible for this crisis and which laws were broken.  Michigan’s Health Department is investigating whether an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease is related to the contaminated water. MDEQ’s director Dan Wyant resigned on December 29th, and Flint residents are calling on Governor Rick Snyder also to resign.  Health officials will track 10,000 Flint children who may have been poisoned by these contaminants. Health effects from lead poisoning may take years to develop.


Virginia Tech’s Flint Water Study

How Tap Water Became Toxic in Flint, Michigan,” CNN.com, January 13, 2016.

Michigan Prosecutor Opens Probe of Flint Water Crisis,” NBCnews.com, January 15, 2016.

January 6th, 2016

City releases “2012-2015 Sustainable Chicago Highlights & Look Ahead”

sustainable chicago

In recognition of the accomplishments of their sustainability action plan, the City of Chicago has released “2012-2015 Sustainable Chicago Highlights & Look Ahead.

Highlights include:

  • Greencorps Chicago Youth Program, which launched in 2013, has provided paid, sustainability-focused summer jobs for over 2,000 youth over three years
  • Energy Benchmarking ordinance passed with strong early implementation including 1,800+ buildings benchmarking in the second year, covering 20% of citywide building energy use
  • Chicago has risen to #2 in bike friendly cities supported by the creation of 100 miles of better bike lanes and the launch and expansion of the Divvy bike share program to 4,760 bikes parked across the City in solar powered stations
  • Closed the last two coal plants in urban America which operated in Pilsen and Little Village

Look ahead plans include:

  • Conduct citywide greenhouse gas emissions inventory based on 2015 data in partnership with CMAP
  • Expand implementation of the Energy Benchmarking Ordinance to include all municipal, commercial, and residential buildings larger than 50,000 sq. ft.
  • Continue construction of three additional blocks of the Chicago Riverwalk from LaSalle to Lake Street


Chicago Sustainability website: www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/env/sustainable_chicago2015

October 14th, 2015

Northerly Island transformed from airport to urban oasis

Twelve years after Mayor Daley shut down Meigs Field in the middle of the night, Northerly Island has been restored to its original purpose: a park-island.  Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago had originally proposed five such park-islands between Jackson Park and Grant Park, but only Northerly Island was every constructed.  First built in 1920, the Island was part of the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933-34.  The city transformed it into an airport in 1947, which it remained until it suddenly closed in 2003.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Chicago Park District collaborated to transform the southern part of Northerly Island into an ecological escape for Chicagoans.  This 43-acre park now includes wetlands, hills, camping grounds, and walking paths allowing the public access to landscape and wildlife.  More than 150 types of native plants will be installed, designed to attract migratory birds and local insect populations.


The total project cost, including feasibility and design phases, construction and construction oversight, is estimated to be $9.5 million, including a federal share of about $6.2 million secured by the Army Corps Great Lakes Fisheries and Environmental Restoration (GLFER) project. The non-federal share of Park District funding is about $3.3 million, consisting entirely of revenue from FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.

Press Release: “Mayor Emanuel, Senator Durbin, Chicago Park District Celebrate Grand Opening of Northerly Island Restoration Project,” September 4, 2015.

Chicago Tribune: “Northerly Island Park opens Friday on Chicago Lakefront,” September 2, 2015.

October 1st, 2015

Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference



The first annual Midwest Environmental Compliance Conference (MECC) will be held October 29-30th at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare and will focus on EPA’s Region 5 (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and 35 tribes).

MECC events are hosted by state business and manufacturing associations and supported by U.S. EPA and State Agencies. These Midwestern environmental conferences:

  • Provide an insider perspective on key regional issues
  • Offer valuable, up-to-date information on rapidly-changing areas of regulation and law
  • Create a forum for valuable networking with regulators, clients and potential clients/customers
  • Foster meaningful, professional conversation with federal, state and local regulators
  • Deliver great speakers and thought leaders with unique insights, real experience, and a seasoned perspective
  • Provide an environmental “boot camp” training opportunity for those relatively new to environmental compliance and permitting or new to a particular environmental medium


Chicago’s conference will include sessions featuring administrators from U.S. EPA and state environmental agencies, including Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR).

Some of the conference sessions will discuss:

  • U.S. EPA Regional Priorities
  • Emerging Water Issues
  • Hot Topics in Remediation and Waste Materials Management
  • Regional Air Issues Roundtable
  • Compliance Auditing

More information, the conference schedule, and registration can be found at mecconference.com.

August 12th, 2015

Friends of the Chicago River is seeking Eco-Warriors

Do you love the Chicago River and want to volunteer with Friends of Friends of the Chicago River logothe Chicago River to help improve and protect it?  Become an Eco-Warrior today.

As an Eco-Warrior, you will have the opportunity to:

Learn more about becoming an Eco-Warrior on the Friends of the Chicago River website.