By: Ashmar MandouOverseeing Chicago’s water supply and improving the quality of life for 2.7 million residents is no easy feat. However, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago David St. Pierre is bringing his expertise to the board. Hailing from New Orleans, St. Pierre has over 25 years of experience and is excited to bring new ideas to stabilize cost for tax payers. “Water is why everybody is here. If there wasn’t water, there wouldn’t be a Chicago,” said St. Pierre. “Protecting that water supply is really an exciting field. I’m excited about the environment and protecting its resources.” St. Pierre sat down with the Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper to discuss what he intends to bring to the MWRD.
You know the sewer industry is a small little world that is connected across the country. And Chicago has been known as the leader, really, in sewer agencies for decades because of its history. The Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) in the 70s was something that EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] wasn’t thinking about. The rest of the country was thinking about treatment processes and getting to secondary treatment and Chicago was already there. Just knowing a little bit about the district from the outside, I was excited about the opportunity to come to Chicago to lead such a prestigious organization.
You have to be excited about being a part of an industry, where even though you are really making quite a difference, people don’t think about it much. And if they do think about it, it is generally a time that it is impacting their lives in a negative way. Even though it is an industry that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is continually protecting the environment and adding benefit to society, when people think about it, it is generally negative.
The waste water industry is always a dynamic industry because regulations change. And so for the MWRD, my role is really to be a visionary in how to achieve regulations in their environments of the district while making sure we stay solvent and protect the interests for all of our constituents. And of course everybody is our constituent our rate payers, our tax payers. We want to make sure that we deliver services in an affordable cost to our rate payers. We want to make sure that we are moving forward on the environmental landscape and continue to improve water quality in the Chicago region.
I have come at a time that there are very large issues that are on the table that are facing the district. The district, like all organizations in our economic state, has some financial issues. So immediately we need to get a handle of those financial issues. Again, so that we can continue to deliver the services we’ve delivered within a rate structure that isn’t going to that really look to our constituents for being protected from high rates.
To learn more about the MWRD, visit www.mwrd.org.