Judy Freeman - IWWSG Recording Secretary 
Industrial Water, Waste and Sewage Group 
(773) 491-6399 


Thursday, January 21, 2021 from 12 NOON to 1:00 PM CDT

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Industrial Water, Waste & Sewage Group 

invites you to a Webinar on

"Calumet First and Forever:  Draining the South Area of Chicago and Territorial Expansion"


Thursday, January 21, 2021

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm on Zoom


Dick Lanyon, Author 


A decade after the flow of the Chicago River was reversed in 1900, the Calumet River continued to pollute Lake Michigan.  Dilution water from the lake to reverse the flow in the Chicago River alone could not solve the public health crisis on Chicago's south side.  A better plan was needed and it was implemented for the Calumet area.  Building the Calumet-Sag Channel, intercepting sewers, pumping stations and the Calumet sewage treatment plant ended the crisis by 1922.  Presently the Calumet plant serves a population of one million in a 305 square mile area, collecting sewage in a network of 184 miles of intercepting sewers.  Growing suburbs after World War II doubled the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District's territory and increased the demand in south and northwest Cook County.  Long lasting litigation over lake diversion finally ended the dilution practice and improved the use of Lake Michigan water, preserving and protecting this vital resource.


Dick Lanyon retired from his position as Executive Director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) at the close of 2010, a position that he held for 4 years. As Executive Director, he directed the day-today operations of the MWRD, which included 2,100 employees serving five million people in Cook County and the industrial waste load equivalent of another four million people. The MWRD provides wastewater and stormwater management and other related services to protect the environment. Dick’s career at the MWRD spanned nearly 48 years. In 2012, Dick published Building the Canal to Save Chicago, a historical documentary of the first project of the MWRD that enabled the reversal of flow in the Chicago River to protect Lake Michigan. In May 2016 his second book, Draining Chicago: The Early Years and the North Area, was published. West by Southwest to Stickney, Draining the Central Area of Chicago and Exorcising Clout was published in April 2018. Calumet: First and Forever: Draining the South Area of Chicago and Territorial Expansion was published in September 2020. All four completely describe the engineered drainage system in metropolitan Chicago and history of the engineered MWRD infrastructure. In an article titled CSDX 39 and the History of the Sludge Express, which appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Rail & Wire, a quarterly publication of the Illinois Railway Museum, Lanyon explains one of the MWRD’s unique operations. Dick has received numerous awards including: American Society of Civil Engineer’s National Government Civil Engineer of the Year Award in 1999; Distinguished Alumnus of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 2003; Edward J. Cleary Award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists in 2011; and Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) in 2011. He is also a past President of the Illinois Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers and holds Bachelors and Masters of Civil Engineering degrees from the UIUC. In 2013, Dick was inducted into the NACWA Hall of Fame. Dick has been involved in a variety of technical activities for the above and other organizations, and he has served in a number of leadership roles on environmental protection and water resource management matters for federal, state and local agencies and organizations. Dick served on the Evanston Public Library Board of Directors, was alderman of the 8 th Ward on the Evanston City Council and recently completed an eight-year term as chairman of the Evanston Utilities Commission. He and his wife Marsha reside in Evanston and he continues to be an advocate for sensible and sustainable water management in the urban environment.