The following information is provided as a public service. It is deeply buried within the City of Chicago's website. It is exactly what you will find (in text) if you turn your browser to
www.ci.chi.il.us/WorksMart/Sewers/html/Overview.html Please note that this link is no longer available but is provided to show exactly where the information came from.
Overview - Department of Sewers
The Chicago Department of Sewers is responsible for construction of new sewers; maintenance of existing sewers including cleaning and repair; construction and maintenance of sewer-related structures; issuing permits to private contractors for sewer-related work; working with builders and developers whose new construction or renovation projects will tie into the city's sewer system; conducting field inspections of plumbing contractors' work; and enforcing Chicago's Plumbing Code.
The Department of Sewers has an annual budget that exceeds $120 million net of capital improvements, which vary based on available funds. The department presently has 833 employees.
Chicago has a combined sewer system that flows into interceptors from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). The MWRD is responsible for all sewage treatment.
The move to fund Chicago's first sewers was prompted by deadly outbreaks of cholera and dysentery in 1848. The first sewers were built in 1856 by Boston engineer E.S. Chesbrough with a $1 million allotment.
As Chicago expanded, so did the responsibilities of the Bureau of Sewers, which was--until 1980--a bureau of a number of different departments. In 1980, the bureau became a separate department.
Upon taking office in 1989, Mayor Richard M. Daley made clear his mandate to improve Chicago's infrastructure. Since then, Mayor Daley's administration has funded over $333 million in sewer improvement projects alone, including 140 miles of new sewer; 80 miles of sewers cleaned and nine miles of sewers lined (detailed description of Department of Sewers' lining program under Engineering and Construction Division).
Mayor Daley also created the city's Catch Basin Cleaning Program, which provides for cyclical cleaning of Chicago's approximately 213,000 catch basins. Coordination between the department and the city's 50 aldermanic offices ensures that, on average, 25 blocks worth of catch basins are scheduled for cleaning in 12 wards every week. Each aldermanic office selects the areas for cleaning in each round. The Department of Sewers has specific crews in each of its three districts dedicated to this program.
The Department of Sewers is divided into three sections: Administration, Engineering and Construction and Operations.