Toneal M. Jackson

Candidate for MWRD Commissioners (6-year terms)

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?

Former MWRD Commissioner Kim DuBuclet said, “The MWRD is the most important agency that no one knows about”; THAT’S why I want to be commissioner - to change that dynamic. All too often Cook County residents are affected by policies they never knew existed. Whereas it is true that the job of the commissioner is to write policies to protect the water environment, I think it’s time that they also interact with the respective community residents to get a better idea of how the policies actually effect those who they are written to protect.

I have spent the last decade educating and empowering others. My specialty is communicating with people on all levels, educating them on the issues and empowering them to act. This combined with my literary experience as an award-winning author and political prowess as the Chairwoman of the Cook County Green Party, qualifies me to be commissioner from both a personal and professional perspective. I’m more than capable to write the policies, I have compassion for the people, and a heart for the environment. Most people typically tend to “think green” in terms of saving the planet; however, there are currently no Green Party Commissioners and I believe it’s high time that we change that.

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?

Educate the public on things they can do to help such as:

  • Knowing what can/can’t and should/shouldn’t be flushed down toilets and drains
  • Conserving water at home
  • Getting involved with stormwater infrastructure projects

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

They can continue to raise awareness by speaking to schools and community organizations; get residents involved. Establish creative ways to encourage community participation to save water, avoid littering, and increase recycling efforts.

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


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?


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?


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


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


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

Rain gardens. I’d want public schools, park districts and even individual homes and businesses to start rain gardens (where applicable/appropriate). They’re a great way to build community involvement, increase waterway health, and help the ecosystem.