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November 8, 2016 — Illinois General Election
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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago Board of CommissionersCandidate for CommissionerUnexpired 2-year term

Photo of Herb Schumann

Herb Schumann

Elected Official
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • The MWRD needs to take a serious look at what TARP will and will not achieve and determine what additional measures are needed to fully remedy Chicagoland's stormwater problems that continue to dump sewage into the Lake, rivers and streams.
  • During combined sewer overflow events, action alert days have been recommended to inform the public of the need to reduce water consumption, but this remains a promising concept unless the MWRD publicly acknowledges the problem.
  • I support the introduction of an Independent Inspector General for the MWRD



Profession:Elected Official
Property Value Analyst, Cook County Board of Review (2010–2015)
Chief Financial Officer, Cook County Highway Department (2002–2009)
Cook County Commissioner, Cook County Board — Elected position (1990–2002)
President, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission — Appointed position (1998–2002)
Commissioner, Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission — Appointed position (1990–2002)
Commissioner/Treasurer, I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor Commission — Appointed position (1990–2002)


DePaul University MBA, Finance (1984)
Governors' State University BA, Public Administration (1978)

Community Activities

Treasurer, Palos Lions Club (2015–current)
Director, National Association of Regional Councils (1998–2002)

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 Herb Schumann:

The MWRD has ignored this problem for decades, claiming there are no numeric water quality standards for such nutrients in Illinois. The recovery facility at the Stickney plant is keeping the MWRD just ahead of the litigation claiming violation of the Clean Water Act. The MWRD needs to be pro-active on this issue and find the resources to protect the Chicago Waterway System from this problem. All MWRD treatment facilities should have phosphorous recovery.

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 Herb Schumann:

The occurance of combined sewer overflows are a failure of the MWRD to protect the Chicago waterway system. The MWRD will always be reluctant to admit its failures and can't be trusted to be fully transparent on disclosing this information. Legal requirements make the MWRD collect and furnish the notifications, but that's all that can be expected of them. The use of Action Alert Days can be used to inform the public of dangerous levels of pollution, but also explain the value of water convervation during critical times of reaching the capacity of the sewage system. The grand vision of the "Our Great Rivers" proposal may be a logical vehicle to combine the Chicago media resources with the public information expertise of the environmentally centered non-profit organizations to promote this effort.

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

The MWRD is responsible for keeping the waterways clear of debris and spends millions of dollars on the effort.

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 Herb Schumann:

The MWRD must be prepared to break the lease agreements for those tenants that continue to pollute the waterways. The MWRD should work with the Forest Preserve of Cook County to acknowledge the greenway connections and recreational value of the open space that the MWRD has. 

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 Herb Schumann:

The pollution caused by the combined sewer overflows during heavy rain events has turned out to be one of the obstacles that keep the Asian carp from coming farther upstream toward Lake Michigan. MWRD Commissioners have shown support for the Army Corps of Engineer's plan of keeping out the Asian carp by  separating the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan water systems in a 25 year effort and a cost of $18 billion. That plan is a non starter and only defers responsibility to Congress as the funding source. The MWRD should support the efforts to encourage over fishing of the Asian Carp with incentives and support the electronic gates that will stop 95% of the Asian carp from coming upstream. 


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 Herb Schumann:

The Deep Tunnel and Reservoir system (TARP), as designed, will never have the capacity to prevent flooding. More effort should be put in to finding ways of storing rain water where it falls with Green Infrastructure and restoring wetlands upstream. Wetlands initiatives in Wisconsin have a tremendous potential to decrease the capacity of stormwater in Cook County. 

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

The combined sewer system was designed to use streets, backyards, and even basements as a place to store stormwater to keep the mix of stormwater and wastewater out of Lake Michigan and the rivers and streams. The capacity of TARP is not enough to control flooding, especially in a situation when back to back storms overload the system. The current policy at MWRD is to say TARP will make it better someday, which it will, but the opportunity for disaster will always be present. The MWRD needs to take a serious look at what TARP will and will not achieve and determine what additional measures are needed in addition to TARP. There needs to be a long-term look at separating the stormwater out of the combined sewer system. 

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

I would suggest protective screening near the intake areas.

Videos (1)

Herb Schumann tells why he should be a commissioner on the board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

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