Shundar Lin: Candidate profile
Office sought: Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
Occupation: Retired Sanitary Engineer
Education: Ph.D. in Sanitary Engineering
Civic involvement: Active in the Taiwanese American Association, Member of Rotary Club International
Elected offices held: Board Member of the Illinois Pollution Control Board
Incumbent? No. If yes, when were first elected:
Questions and Answers
1. What special knowledge or experience do you have that particularly qualifies you for this office? If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
I am extremely qualified to serve as Commissioner. I hold a Ph.D. in Sanitary Engineering, and have spent a career as a water scientist for the Illinois State Water Survey, and I served on the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
I have been one of the world's leading water and wastewater scientists for more than 40 years. I have published more than 100 papers on water, wastewater, water resources, as well as three books.
As a Commissioner, I will focus on:
1. Promoting ADVANCED technologies for wastewater treatment.
2. Keeping our water CLEAN, including the use of autonomous technology to patrol our waterways
3. Improving our region's management of STORMWATER
4. Closely watching the District's budget- & passing a balanced budget
5. Ending CRONYISM and ensuring a fair bidding process for all engineering projects
6. Helping to better educate the public about the District's role in the protection of our water and lands
Note: I am not a politician. I am running for Commissioner based on my knowledge and experiences
2. How do you view the role the district has played in controlling flooding and what, if any, actions need to be taken to improve things?
Climate disruption is causing more severe and frequent storm events, increasing flooding and contributing to the degradation of our rivers and streams. Runoff from streets, yards and parking lots pollutes the water and erodes streams. Low income communities with outdated infrastructure are particularly vulnerable to flooding and basement backups and are less equipped to prevent and recover from storm events, therefore bearing the greatest burden of the deficiencies in our stormwater management system.
The MWRD built and operate Tunnel and Reservoir Plan (TARP) was a big step for controlling flooding in its district. In addition, recently (in 2018) completed the Phase 1 of McCook Reservoir was for another flooding control.
In 2014, the MWRD established the Green Infrastructure (GI) Partnership Opportunity Program. The MWRD had accepting project applications for partnership funding opportunities. Starting in 2017, the program resulted with the MWRD partnering with 19 communities and public agencies throughout Cook County to fund and build GI projects. Due to the success of the program, a 2018 Call for Projects was released and the MWRD partnered with 19 additional communities and public agencies. These projects will provide up to 5 million gallons of stormwater runoff storage to over 1,400 benefiting structures with the use of rain gardens, bioswales, and permeable pavement in parking lots, alleys, and residential streets. The MWRD is now currently reaching out to agencies within its boundaries to identify even more GI project opportunities.
In the United States, the Best Management Practice (BMP) for a watershed is used to prevent or reduce the pollution for stormwater management and flood control. Specifically, the BMP include treatment requirements, operating procedures and practice to good housekeeping, preventive maintenance, visual inspections, spill prevention and responses, sediment and erosion control, management runoff, employee training, record keeping and reporting and other BMPs as appropriate. The green infrastructures mentioned above also may be used at local uses. All are good for controlling flooding.
If elected, some actions may be taken as below:
1) Appling the BMP technics to our watershed. But the benefits of each investment need to be scientifically evaluated including its long-term performance as well as cost of the operation and maintenance. I would prioritize app but urban flood management is complicated and requires multifaceted solutions. Infrastructure investments that produce the most economic, social and environmental benefits.
2) The Des Plaines River watershed has flooding problem yearly, large or small scale. Traditionally, the drain channel capacity is generally designed based on the 5-yar storm. A 5-year storm nowadays might be the old timer's 10-year storm. Therefore, I will stress that it is needed to revise (or redefine) the year storm.
3) In 2018, the flooding occurred in Wilmette village due to 100-year storm. One of the major causes was falling trees in the drainage channel most are in the Chicago Forest Reserve territories. The poor maintenance of inlet structures plugged the inflow and reduced the flow speed. Both actions 2 and 3 are due to falling trees. I will make wake-up calls to all maintenance managers to take more responsibilities to clean up the channel more frequently. This situation is a serious problem and should be avoided.
3. What changes in technology, equipment or infrastructure are needed to improve management of the region's water supply.
Asian carp, currently confined to the Mississippi River system, are threatening to invade Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Researchers reaffirm that providing safe drinking water to Chicago residents must remain the number one priority; however, the Asian carp must be blocked to prevent them from getting into the Great Lakes.
The Chicago and Calumet Rivers carry the city's storm and treated sewer water away from Lake Michigan by redirecting it into the Cal-Sag and Chicago Sanitary and Ship canals and the Des Plaines River, south to the Illinois River, Mississippi River, and Gulf of Mexico. However, during high precipitation events, the Chicago area sewage treatment system cannot always store and treat the excess commingled storm and sewer water because of the volume and rate of runoff.
The Army Corps of Engineers had installed electric barrier in Chicago River for years. It had achieve the purpose to control Asian carp. According to U of I researcher Cory Suski, experiments with using carbon dioxide to repel fish from an area, acting as a nonphysical barrier can prevent invasive Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan and Chicago's drinking water supply. However, there are 18 sites identified as being at high risk for allowing the movement of aquatic nuisance species between the two basins.
On May 24, 2019, the Army Corps of Engineers has sent Congress a $778 million plan to fortify an Illinois waterway with noisemakers, electric cables and other devices in the hope that they will prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes. Nowadays, it is up to the Congress to continue to fund new ways to block the Asian carp pathway through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to Lake Michigan. The Army Corps generally requires nonfederal partners to pay 35% of a project's construction costs, although Congress could waive some or all of the requirement.
4. What is the role of the district, and of district commissioners, in promoting conservation of resources?
As the protector of our water resources, the MWRD continues to work diligently to protect Lake Michigan, the source of our drinking water, as well as the health and safety of citizens and area waterways. Some of the MWRD's most notable achievements are reversing the flow of the Chicago and Calumet River Systems in the early 1900s, the construction of the North Shore Channel and the Tunnel and Reservoir Plan, which is also known as "TARP" or "Deep Tunnel," and McCook Reservoir (phase 1).
As the mission of the MWRD, it manage stormwater, treat wastewater, and recover valuable resources. In its daily role, the MWRD strives to protect businesses, homes and neighborhoods from flood damages, clean wastewater entering our plants and manage water as a vital resource for the area. The MWRD is also actively developing innovative measures to recover and reuse resources, such as energy, biosolids, water, algae, phosphorus, nitrogen, and other nutrients removed from the wastewater stream.
5. How do you rate the MWRD on transparency and the public's access to records? If you consider it adequate, please explain why. If you think improvements are needed, please describe them and why they are important
At the entrance of the downtown office of the MWRD is with a small door and securely guarded. Once, I tried to get in to see what are the Commissioner offices. My request was rejected. On the other hand, at the Illinois Pollution Control, people can get up there for visiting (at Thomson Center) with or without appointment.
All records should be access to the public. Also, all record must be available for public views, according to the law.
The MWRD should gave more information on water, land, ad environment to the public. It has qualified professionals and had developed pamphlet for public education. Such as: How to
o conserve potable water, end up less wastewater;
o protect our waterways;
o proper salting for deice;
o impact of climate changes;
o cut carbon dioxide production; etc.