Kimberly Neely Dubuclet
Democratic candidate for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, 2-year term
Responses to our questions
Evaluate the current performance of the MWRD.
I belive the District is a very well run agency that is in good financial condiation. MWRD is one of the only agencies with a AAA bond rating and its pension issue was resolved with union support. The District continues to make great progress on stormwater management and resource recovery. The MWRD Board has done a good job of adopting "green" infrastructure projects, while working to control the stormwater overflow problems. However, it's obvious after every heavy rain that more work needs to be done.
Explain why you are qualified to be a commissioner and three specific initiatives you seek to accomplish during your term in office.
I have been a long-time advocate for water conservation, and have dedicated the last decade of my life to public service. I am passionate about the mission of MWRD and look forward to serving on the Board. During my term in office, I hope to work on 1) Expansion of the Deep Tunnel project, 2) Encouraging MWRD contractors to maintain back office functions locally within the Chicagoland area, so that our public dollars are re-invested in our community and 3) support initiatives to find uses for our wastewater, including turning it into renewable energy.
Does current MWRD policy sufficiently encourage the use of permeable paving and other tactics to conserve water, diminish flooding and enhance habitat? How, if at all, would you seek to improve the district's conservation policy?
MWRD should be supportive in the expansion of permeable surfacing across Cook County and should lead the effort to promote green building codes throughout Cook County. One way they are currently doing this is by providing credits for the use of green infrastructure, including permeable pavement, when permits for development or redevelopment are sought under its Watershed Management Ordinance (WMO). MWRD should take the opportunity to play a leadership role on both fronts in order to help promote a greener environment. If elected, I plan to work with suburban counties and villages to adopt model policies that promote permeable surfacing, green building codes and other environmental best practices
Do you favor or oppose separation of the Chicago/Des Plaines/Calumet river watershed from Lake Michigan? Why or why not?
It is evident based on various studies that the only definitive way to prevent the spread of invasive species through the Chicago Area Waterways system is to separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River and take the river back to its original flow. Further research must continue in order to determine the most effective and cost efficient way of implementing such a large undertaking. Since Chicago and many suburbs have sewer and storm systems designed to discharge water into the CAWS and a certain amount of the flow of treated wastewater is required to maintain water levels for commercial barge traffic, the risk of future flooding would have to be addressed before I could fully support separation of the watersheds again. It must be studied.
Beyond whatever relief recent developments at the McCook quarry will deliver: What more, if anything, should the MWRD do to curb sewage overflows into the Chicago River and, at times, into Lake Michigan? If you propose additional actions, how would you pay for them?
I would support any efforts or strategies to expedite the completion of Phase II of the McCook Reservoir. Securing federal funding for Phase II of McCook is essential. I support the current strategy of MWRD directly receiving funds to complete this project instead of having the funds and work going through the Army Corp of Engineers that has not proven efficient or cost effective. I am open to any strategies that will help reduce flooding and combined sewer overflows.
Does the MWRD have surplus land? If so, should it be sold for development, transferred to abutting municipalities, or conveyed to the Forest Preserve District for conservation? Explain.
I believe the MWRD is a good steward for this land. I would seriously consider transferring some land to the Forest Preserve District, but at this time I do not support any sale of land for development purposes.
Given its sizable budget and the huge contracts it awards, should the MWRD have a different oversight protocol? How would you propose improving oversight and ethics monitoring?
I support the current efforts to establish an Inspector General to review the District's effectiveness and efficiency.