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Precious Brady-Davis

Candidate for MWRD Commissioners (unexpired 2-year term)

Candidate Q&A

Why do you want to be a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and why do you believe you are qualified to be a commissioner?

I was appointed to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago by Governor JB Pritzker in July, 2023.

The MWRD has a rich and deep 130 year history of protecting Lake Michigan, managing wastewater, and more recently, managing stormwater. I want to contribute to that history and create policy for the next 130 years and meet the challenges and obstacles climate change is bringing onto our communities.

Additionally for the past 6 years I have served as the Associate Regional Communications Director at Sierra Club leading campaigns that champion renewable energy, hold corporate polluters accountable, and fight climate change. I count fighting to protect the water supply in Oklahoma from pollutants; Minneapolis committing to transitioning to run on 100% renewable energy by the end of 2023; along with holding former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt accountable during the Trump years as solid victories for the environment under my leadership.

I believe strongly in protecting the primary source of drinking water, Lake Michigan and am invested in advancing green infrastructure to improve community resilience and prevent flooding across Cook County.

With rainstorms more frequent and severe, the Deep Tunnel system and the MWRD reservoirs fill up. As a result, it's sometimes necessary to release sewage overflows into waterways. What other strategies should the MWRD employ to reduce those sewage releases between now and when the fourth reservoir is finished in 2029?

The MWRD must commit to expanding green infrastructure across the county to significantly aid in stormwater management. This includes creating more permeable surfaces, rain gardens, green roofs, and bioswales which absorb and slow down runoff, reducing the burden on the sewer system. The MWRD needs to enhance their efforts in promoting the Green Infrastructure Partnership program to encourage broader community engagement and awareness. This can lead to more widespread adoption of green infrastructure practices in both public and private spaces. Additionally, the creation of an intergovernmental task force to address flooding can facilitate coordinated actions and sharing of resources among different governmental bodies. This taskforce can focus on developing comprehensive flood management plans and identifying areas most in need of infrastructure improvements.

How else can the MWRD improve conditions in area waterways to reduce the risk of public health threats for recreational swimmers, kayakers, boaters, etc.?

The MWRD regularly monitors water quality and promptly reports findings to the public, especially during and after heavy rains when the risk of contamination is higher.

Something I would like to see under my tenure is more education on how the public's actions can impact water quality. This includes information on proper disposal of chemicals and waste, the importance of minimizing runoff from personal property, and how to reduce water pollution.

We should be utilizing land along our waterways for additional green infrastructure, which can serve as natural filters for runoff before it enters the water system. This could include wetland restoration or the creation of buffer zones with native vegetation.

The MWRD should also regularly be updating their emergency response plans for scenarios where water quality poses a health risk to ensure they act quickly and take effective action to protect public health.

Do you think the MWRD does a good job of informing the public about sewage releases and the potential health risks?

Yes, Yes, While the MWRD is committed to informing the public about potential sewage releases, since coming on board as Commissioner I have made it a priority to address health risks by addressing current communication strategies and have recommended several other effective modes of public awareness that inform the county population about alerts potential sewage discharges before they happen.

Do you think the MWRD does a good job informing the public about permeable paving, “green alleys,” rain barrels and other methods of reducing flooding?

Yes, Yes, I know our staff take their roles seriously and put maximum effort into our outreach and educational programs. As a communications professional, I also know we are competing for people's attention and we may find it more effective to market our ‘ideas’ through more non-traditional means to expand our audience.

Do you think the MWRD does a good job informing the public about conserving water during storms such as holding off on running the dishwasher, doing laundry, or taking shorter showers?

Yes, Yes, the MWRD does a good job informing the public about potential flooding through their Overflow Action Alert system. Cook County residents are able to sign up for text/email alerts to remind them to conserve water during heavy rainstorms and that goes a long way. The key part of that system is that we need residents to sign-up and take action! Our alerts can be better promoted through a local marketing campaign to increase awareness. The MWRD also distributes a Friends of the Chicago River publication that educates residents on water conservation. I see our staff work tirelessly on our programs. One of the priorities I have as a commissioner is more intergovernmental agreements and cooperation. I want to take this opportunity to remind our audience, rainwater and wastewater is initially handled by your local municipalities. Depending on the municipalities, local infrastructure and weather conditions, the amount of time it takes for the municipalities to get the water to our pipes varies greatly.

Do you think the MWRD has a role in reducing contaminants like prescription drugs / pharmaceuticals and toxic chemicals like phosphates?

Yes, Our mission is to protect the waterways and we will continue to explore all avenues to do so. The MWRD is currently in an IGA with the Cook County Sheriff's Office for the “Take Back” prescription drug program. I recently voted in favor of continuing this collaboration and believe the ultimate responsibility belongs to the manufactures when it comes to addressing forever toxic chemicals. The public did not create them and we should not bear the burden of paying for their clean-up.

Do you believe the MWRD has a role in preventing aquatic invasive species from entering the Chicago waterway system?

Yes, This is a regional issue and the MWRD certainly is an active participant in finding a long-term solution to tackle any invasive species that pose a threat to our waterways in collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers.

What specific water infrastructure projects or investments would you pursue if elected?

I would like to pursue more water infrastructure projects to address climate change in communities that face the hardships the most. I ran for Commissioner because I want to build a more equitable and resilient Cook County and prepare our infrastructure for the harsh realities that climate change is bringing to our doorsteps. I want to ensure that Phase 2 of the McCook Reservoir is on track for completion. This is a huge priority for me in order to serve the immediate needs of the surrounding communities we serve and the entire region. Lastly, I want to see the district prioritize green infrastructure strategies throughout all projects.