MWRD employs new online incident reporting app

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April 28, 2014 -- The next step in the evolution of incident reporting could be through smartphone applications. Such is the case with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The District has recently implemented a new online reporting application designed to collect reports of odors, stream blockages and other environmental-related issues more efficiently.

Another way to notify the MWRD about occurrences of water and air pollution is through a 24 hour 1-800-332-DUMP hotline. MWRD systems dispatchers monitor both the online reporting system and hotline 24 hours per day. If a user reports a dump or spill into a sewer or into a Chicago-area waterway, the dispatcher refers the call to the MWRD's Industrial Waste Division, and a pollution control officer launches an investigation.

The officers strive to complete their investigation within five business days. Some cases may be open longer due to the nature of the event and the involvement of other agencies. Depending upon the circumstances, services may be needed from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or the U.S. Coast Guard.

"This new tool will allow residents to notify us of environmental issues countywide," said Commissioner Kari Steele, chairman of the Committee on Information Technology. "We understand unpleasant environmental occurrences are inconvenient and disruptive, but by completing the new online report, our staff will be able to work to address them."

Accordingly, Chairman of Finance Mariyana Spyropoulos added, "We are working to make the reporting of issues affecting our waterways as easy as possible. A smartphone app for notifying us of these instances is a logical next step."

To initiate a report, the public is encouraged to visit the MWRD website at www.mwrd.org and click on the "Report Air or Water Pollution" link. A short questionnaire will prompt visitors for information regarding the situation. Staff will then use the information to investigate complaints and/or plan future work throughout the county. Urgent matters should be reported to local municipalities.

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