I am Sharon Waller, and I'm running for Commissioner of Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) in the 2024 Democratic primary on March 19.
I am working for:
Climate change is real and science has become political.
It's time to elect engineers scientists.
Water Policy is Needed.
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Waller, 2021. Op-Ed: CSOs, climate change, and the blue economy. Published Sept 24, 2021 in the Evanston Round Table
Waller, 2021. Water policy for climate resilience. Published December 15, 2021 in the Southland Journal.
Flood Management. I grew up in a flooding home where we counted the numbers of basement stairs covered. I witnessed first hand how large infrastructure can reduce flood damage. After "deep tunnel" (a.k.a. the tunnel and reservoir project or TARP) was completed, our basement never flooded again. I eliminated sewer backups in my current 1930s vintage home by replacing sidewalks with permeable pavement and redirecting downspouts to rain gardens.
Water policy today for jobs tomorrow. Our region needs to prepare for change with increased flood protection, improved river water quality, and water policy to grow our Blue Economy. Water policy is needed to help our industry adapt to climate change. Without water policy, drinking water competes with greywater for revenue: drinking water always wins and public health loses.
Cleaner water. Chicago River water quality suffers from combined sewer overflow events
- River reversals discharge raw sewage into our drinking water supply once a year on average.
- Flooding plagues our south suburbs and is predicted to increase in the Midwest (CMAP, 2013).
- Great Lakes hold 84% of surface freshwater in North America (USEPA) yet collar counties are running short of groundwater (ISWS MP-208). Current regional water policy promoted moving water to them via ad-hoc water deals and long water transmission lines. Our industry may consider moving to a more secure water source
- On-site water reuse provides a drought-proof and cost-stable alternative water source to adapt to climate change
- More than ever, we need STEM professionals to guide our policy.
- I am an Environmental Engineer licensed in the State of Illinois and a small business owner of Sustainable Systems LLC – Consulting which is a Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) certified with the City of Chicago. I have supported both industry and municipalities in water, wastewater, and other environmental projects over my 30+ year long career.
- I have authored guideline on water resilience for climate change.
- I hold bachelors and masters degrees in Civil Engineering from Purdue University and a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University.
- I hold a teaching certificate in post-secondary education from Northwestern University where I taught for three years.
- I am a member of American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation, Water Reuse Association, and the Sierra Club.
- I obtained an emergency teaching certificate to assist opening schools in the midst of a pandemic-related teacher shortages.
- As President of River Park Advisory Council (Ward 40), I have worked with neighborhood partners to provide outdoor wellness classes during the pandemic and open the River Park boathouse. I have supported our great committees to bring live music to our parks.
- I have provided K-Grade 8 STEM enrichment programs including National Geographic Bee, First Lego League robotics, and astronomy club at schools including St. Matthias School (Ward 40), Edgebrook Elementary School (Ward 41) and Girl Scouts (Ward 47).
- I am a volunteer for Sierra Club and Friends of the Chicago River.
- I live in the 40th Ward of Chicago with my husband, three children, greyhound, cat, and chickens.
- I enjoy backpacking and camping with my family in National Parks.
- My mission is to leave the place better than I found it.