Who’s in Charge of Water in Chicago?

Who’s in Charge of Water in Chicago?

Chicago has an overwhelming number of departments — ranging from housing and human resources to public health and procurement services — and understandably so. The city is responsible for the needs of more than 2.7 million people and spans over 230 square miles.

Understanding the many departments, their work and responsibilities would be quite the feat. However, in terms of complicated issues in the city — such as water quality — it’s helpful to break down the stakeholders involved, including those in positions of power. Within the context of water, there’s an agency, a department and a person who in various capacities have the most power when it comes to water in Chicago.

So, here’s what you need to know about three (potential) power players in the conversation about water and lead contamination.




Many others not mentioned have a hand in water in Chicago. However, the Mayor, the Chicago Department of Water Management and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago are three leaders in Chicago’s water-world. While some positions are elected, all affect both the quality of water we drink and the access we have to it.


This investigation was made possible by funding through the Illinois Humanities, News Integrity Initiative and the MacArthur Foundation.