CBA Record November-December 2021

Midwestern Self-Resilience Fortunately, we’re Midwesterners and have a proud history of being self-reliant, which translates into being more self-resilient. We don’t have to rely on others to solve our problems. We can make the decisions— even the tough calls—to live within our means, financially and hydrologically. That’s good because, unlike the old frontier days, there are no new untapped sources of fresh water. In addition to having some 20% of the Earth’s fresh surface water, the Great Lakes comprise more than 90% of the nation’s fresh surface water.They’re the largest fresh surface water ecosystem on the planet. This means the impacts of climate change typically show up earlier on the Great Lakes than other waterways worldwide. The result: if we do what’s best for our region’s waterways, we’ll have the double-barreled advantage of doing what’s best to fight climate change and doing what’s best for water equity. Cook County is moving ahead to fight climate change. With a commitment to run all county facilities on 100% renewable energy and a reduction in carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, Cook County seeks to address climate change head-on. State action is also leading the way to address the climate crisis. Recently, Gov- ernor Pritzker, the Illinois legislature, and tireless advocates, from unions to envi- ronmental organizations, came together to pass the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act after years of work. The law cements Illinois as a national leader on climate action by providing a model for the rest of the country. Some of the key highlights of the law: • Eliminating carbon emissions from the power sector by 2045; • Providing hundreds of millions of dollars for renewable energy investments; and • Creating good-paying, clean energy jobs, particularly in disadvantaged com- munities.

Closer to home, MWRD’s Board of Commissioners have also taken a stance on climate change, water scarcity, and equity. In June, the Board unanimously passed a water equity resolution. Just as former Mayor Emanuel highlighted the need to use crises to get things done that seem impossible, current Mayor Lori Lightfoot recognizes we have to keep the momentum going: “I applaud the MWRD for taking a stance against privatizing water in the City of Chicago, which would undoubtedly have a detrimental impact on our most vulnerable communities.” That’s not all. MWRD’s Board of Com- missioners unanimously passed changes to its Watershed Management Ordinance that recognizes, for the first time, “Dis- proportionately Impacted Areas.” That means communities in Cook County— often communities of color—that flood more than their peers will have to receive priority attention to reduce stormwater. The board is also looking to bring green infrastructure—using nature to provide flood reduction, jobs, and habitat—to the communities that need it most. To further ensure agency resilience, the Board

of Commissioners recently adopted its Strategic Plan with a goal to be energy positive and reduce greenhouse gases by 100% by 2050. One magical thing about these develop- ments is that they actually reflect the nature of water. Water always seeks equilibrium. Whether in a bowl carved into a mountain- side, a prairie pothole, the Chicago River, or Lake Michigan, water levels always equalize. One side of the lake never has an unfair advantage over another. Let’s make our climate and accessibility policy like water itself: Equitable.

Cameron Davis, a commissioner at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, formerly served as Pres ident Obama’s “Great Lakes Czar.”

He also served as CEO of the Chicago-based Alliance for the Great Lakes after teaching at the University of Michigan Law School.

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