In 2020, a global pandemic in which one of the most effective protections against infection is frequent handwashing with soap and water brought the importance of access to freshwater, affordability, safety and sanitation into sharp and searing focus. That made the work of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago “essential” too—protecting the source of our drinking water by keeping sewage out of Lake Michigan, preventing widespread flooding and basement backups by capturing billions of gallons of stormwater in a vast system of tunnels, reservoirs, detention basins and pipes.
In a world turned upside down and inside out, I know I and many others have found solace in nature, in friendships and family, in faith and reflection. Staying home has encouraged so many of us to rediscover nature nearby—birdsong no longer inaudible due to traffic noise, the delight of gardening and long walks. Staying in the world has meant hearts rent with grief over senseless deaths, inequity made visible, voices and votes suppressed.
The traditional markers between workday and evening and workweek and weekend all zoomed together leading to, in my case, a number of—shall we say—“calendar malfunctions.” (What time zone is it anyway?) I never felt I was able to rest enough, read enough, relax enough. Yet all I bought were walking and hiking shoes; all I wore were jeans; all I wanted was a government in which science and expertise were valued, in which civility and respect were the coin of the realm. Patience repays us with healing of wounds. As we turn the corner from spring equinox to summer solstice, our yearning for connection and touch will be richly rewarded. Soon.
Look for reports on a new five-year strategic plan for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, a Climate Action Plan, a Sustainability and Resiliency Action Plan. We’ve been busy!