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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 George Milkowski

George Milkowski

Green
Retired teacher
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Return real estate to the tax rolls by selling property determined to be “ surplus and not needed for the corporate purpose” in compliance with the law instead of granting long term leases.
  • Expand modern water disinfectant processes to all treatment plants.
  • Work to develop processes to remove all heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, chromium, and so on, from biosolid wastes.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Retired teacher
High School Social Studies Teacher, Chicago Public Schools (1970–2005)

Education

University of Illinois Master of Arts, Public Policy Analysis (1981)
University of Illinois Bachelor, Secondary Education (1970)

Community Activities

Elected member of the Board of Directors, North Boundary Home Owners League (2010–current)
Blood donor - more than 145 donations made to date, LifeSource (2003–current)

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (C.O.R.E.)

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 George Milkowski:

Technologies exist and new ones, such as using algae, are being developed to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater.  Most wastewater treatment plants in the Great Lakes watershed already include treatment for these elements.  The three largest MWRD plants received permits in 2013 to require some reduction in their phosphorous discharges by 2023.  This is too slow and is taking too long.  More resources need to be earmarked for these processes as it did at its February 18, 2016 meeting and they need to be expanded to all of the MWRD’s treatment 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 George Milkowski:

The MWRD has to use social media in addition to its traditional radio and TV media announcements.  The MWRD needs to create an easy to use on-line site that can be reached by citizens as well as allowing citizens to sign up for alerts through the mobile devices.

What do you see as the MWRD’s role in controlling litter in our waterways?
Answer from George Milkowski:

The MWRD currently has “skimmer” boats that try to keep the waterways free of litter.  Unfortunately, much of the litter is blown in by the winds and is beyond the control of the District.

 

 

 

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 George Milkowski:

After reports that excess pollution from Reliable Asphalt Corporation had gotten into the our waterways, David St. Pierre stated at the September 17, 2015 District meeting that the most the MWRD can do is remind its tenants of their lease obligations and ask that they be good corporate citizens.  I think this is nonsense.  Leases must include provisions that hold tenants totally liable for the release of pollutants into the waterways.  If they fail to comply, the lease should be cancelled and all clean up bills should go to the tenant. 

 

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 George Milkowski:

As one of the largest governmental entities in Cook County, the MWRD has the statutory responsibility of managing storm water, and to do so it must co-operate with all other similar bodies in the entire watershed.  This encompasses not only municipalities in the area but also government bodies outside of Cook County.  As occasional heavy downpours require the discharge of water into Lake Michigan, the District also has to maintain contact and co-operate with governments outside of Illinois.

There are over two dozen invasive species already in the Great Lakes.  The Asian carp is one of the most well known due to its great size and voracious appetite, and if it gets into Lake Michigan it is expected to devastate the annual billion dollar plus sport and commercial fishing industries.  So far, electrical barriers have been successful in keeping it out of the Great Lakes.  However, a report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released in December 2013, states that passing vessels “can capture fish and transport them beyond electrical barriers”.  Also, the report stated that “certain barge configurations” could affect the strength of the electrical fields and allow schools of 2-4 inch fish to pass through the barrier.     In December 2011, the Army Corps of Engineers released its Great Lakes/Mississippi River Interbasin Study that proposed over a half dozen plans for keeping the invasive species out.  Unfortunately, all of them admitted to being prone to eventual failure except one: to undo the engineering that connected the two water systems over 100 years ago and instead permanently separate them.   This is long term 25 year project costing upwards of $18 billion, but it needs to be seriously considered if we are to try to keep an ecological balance in the Great Lakes.

 

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 George Milkowski:

The continuous flooding is due to the fact that there are so many people, so many structures, and so many paved over areas that in heavy rains the water can only be channeled into the existing system.  The MWRD, as the pre-eminent entity that deals with this problem in Cook Couny, has to continue its lead in flood control.  Intergovernmental Agreements, such as the Watershed Management Ordinance, need to be expanded to seek the co-operation of all municipalities affected by the rains.

The MWRD also needs to expand the creation of areas where floodwater can be stored above ground.  After the severe 2013, flooding FEMA gave Cook County money to be used for “land banking”.  Water stored in such areas can slowly drain off or percolate through the soil.  The District has done this in the past.  For example, in September 2014, the MWRD spent $8 million to buy and then raze 18 properties in a flood prone area in Glenview.

Additionally, where feasible, permeable concrete that can be used in areas without heavy traffic, such as the MWRD agreed to help pay for “green alleys” in Wilmette at its September 17, 2014 meeting, needs to be the standard in all of Cook County.

Lastly, using low flow or dual flush toilets will reduce the amount of sewage entering the system.  The District needs to seek statutory authority to be able to tax traditional toilets in all future instalations so as to make them economically competitive with the dual flush or low flow toilets.  With about 7,000,000 people in the area, this one small change can make a huge difference.

 

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

This is hard to predict.  The Albany Park tunnel may be sufficient to end the flooding in that North Side area but there is no way of knowing for sure until we again face a "100 year storm".  After evaluating its level of success should determine what further actions should be taken.

 

 

How would you protect the ducks being sucked into the disinfection facility at the O’Brien Treatment plant?
Answer from George Milkowski:

The only practical way would be to baricade the entrance pints with "cyclone" style fencing that extends a least one foot below the waterline.  This wouldn't be 100% efective but it could help.

 

Videos (1)

George Milkowski tells why he should be a commissioner on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board.

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