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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Local

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Board of CommissionersCandidate for CommissionerFull 6-year term

Photo of Josina Morita

Josina Morita

Democratic
Urban Planner
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Stormwater management will be my number one priority. This issue is important not only for protecting homes and businesses from flooding, but protecting our water sources and environment.
  • Invest in green infrastructure and create green jobs in local communities.
  • Community education around stormwater and water conservation, especially with young people.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Urban Planner
Principal, JM Consulting (2014–current)
Commissioner, Skokie Plan Commission — Appointed position (2015–current)
Board Member, Racial Profiling and Data Oversight Board — Elected position (2012–current)
Board Member, Asian American Action Fund of Greater Chicago — Appointed position (2011–current)
Council Member, Asian American Employment Plan Council — Appointed position (2013–current)
Director, United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations (2008–2014)
Senior Research Associate, Applied Research Center (2002–2008)

Education

University of Illinois at Chicago Masters in Urban Planning, Economic Development (2010)
Patzer College Bachelor of Arts, Sociology and International Race Relations (2002)

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Sierra Club, Primary
  • Chicago Tribune, Primary
  • Chicago Sun-Times, Primary

Questions & Answers

Questions from Chicago Sun-Times (8)

How would you expand the removal of such nutrients as phosphorus — which harm aquatic life — to all MWRD plants?
Answer from Josina Morita:

Phosphorous removal is important for improving water quality in our region as well as reducing nutrient loading in the Gulf of Mexico.  MWRD is in the process of installing a new phosphorus recovery facility at the Stickney plant that will remove phosphorus from treated wastewater and turn it into a slow-release fertilizer that can become a new revenue source for the district.  When this facility is fully operational, it will remove more than 1,100 tons of phosphorus from the waste stream, likely meeting the EPA’s regulations for discharge of nutrients into the Chicago waterways.  I am also interested in an innovative process MWRD is looking into utilizing at the O’Brien plant called Clearas Water Recovery that would use algae to remove phosphorous and other nutrients that can be used to produce bioplastics.  Over time, the District should look at expanding these programs across all plants.

How would you expand public awareness of combined sewer overflow notifications, which are intended in part to alert people recreating in Chicago area waterways?
Answer from Josina Morita:

When it comes to Cook County’s stormwater management needs, there is no single strategy that will fix this problem.  The TARP is one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects that will include world’s two largest reservoirs, but even when completed it will hold the equivalent of less than two inches of rain on the county’s surface.  I support targeted local tunnels and reservoirs similar to what MWRD is doing along the river in Albany Park.  I also support programs like Space to Grow and other initiatives that partner with other public agencies to utilize public land and publicly acquired land for water retention.

There are additional stormwater management strategies that can be utilized to reduce flooding and CSOs.  I support a wide variety of strategies including the expansion of green infrastructure, wetland restoration, increasing permeable surfaces across the county, as well as developing new techniques to keep objects out of sewers that promote stoppage. I also support changing state law currently prohibiting water recycling.  Allowing developers, residents and manufacturers to utilize gray water systems can save tens of millions of gallons of water from being drained from the Great Lakes and from going down the drain, providing relief for our combined sewer system. 

Community education is crucial to addressing this problem.  It is important to inform the public about CSO’s, as well as what their role in helping to reduce them.  We need more general education about water conservation, as well as specific information about reducing water usage during rainstorms to prevent CSOs.  I would seek partnerships with public schools, community organizations, and other public agencies to help MWRD do this more effectively.

MWRD has made great strides in increasing the county’s stormwater capacity and reducing CSOs.  The completion of the Thornton reservoir last year was a significant accomplishment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question 3

What do you see as the MWRD’s role in controlling litter in our waterways?

No answer provided.
The Sun-Times has written about the problem of tenants on MWRD land who release chemical pollutants into the local waterways. Please provide strategies for the best use of MWRD land holdings to meet the district’s statutory duties and advance the district’s goals.
Answer from Josina Morita:

MWRD should review its contracts to not only ensure that the proper standards are in place, but that there are strong enforcement and accountability measures are also in place for current contracts.  MWRD shold review its contracts for future tenants that include best practices from across the country for ensuring for environmental protection.   

What is the appropriate role of the MWRD in regional efforts to deal with the problems of storm water management and Asian carp?
Answer from Josina Morita:

Cooperation and coordination with other agencies is both challenging and crucial.  MWRD has no mandate over other government agencies, but it can educate, convene and work in partnership.  MWRD can play a powerful role working with municipalities and actors within a region to provide technical assistance and support their efforts to update their local ordinances and address their strormwater challenges.    

Why would you say is there still significant flooding in the Chicago region, including the south and north suburbs? What should be the MWRD’s role in mitigating flooding?
Answer from Josina Morita:

When it comes to Cook County’s stormwater management needs, there is no single strategy that will fix this problem.  The TARP is one of the country’s largest infrastructure projects that will include world’s two largest reservoirs, but even when completed it will hold the equivalent of less than two inches of rain on the county’s surface.  I support targeted local tunnels and reservoirs similar to what MWRD is doing along the river in Albany Park.  I also support programs like Space to Grow and other initiatives that partner with other public agencies to utilize public land and publicly acquired land for water retention.  I also support looking at strategies including gray water systems that would reduce the amount of drinking water being used, help preserve Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes as well as provide some relief for our combined sewer system.

Will more steps need to be taken to alleviate North Side flooding after the Albany Park tunnel opens?
Answer from Josina Morita:

Yes.  This is only one project.  While providing a place for the water to go when it comes from upstream will help, continuing to address the stormwater issues upstreat in the north suburbs will be essential to solving this problem long term.

Question 8

How would you protect the ducks being sucked into the disinfection facility at the O’Brien Treatment plant?

No answer provided.

Videos (1)

Josina Morita tells why she should be a commissioner on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board.

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