Deep Tunnel Mainstream Pumping Station Tour


On October 10, 2018, The Materials Handling Management Society Chicagoland Chapter hosted a tour of The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago’s first phase of the McCook Reservoir completed in late 2017. The MWRD has provided over a century of protection for the area’s water supply. The tour included a complete overview of the TARP system and how it functions to improve local water quality and mitigate flooding throughout Cook County. The tour kicked off at the Mainstream Pumping Station, 6100 River Rd., in Hodgkins, IL.


Highlights included an interactive display and an amazing tour guide, Thomas Ryan, Chief Operating Engineer 1. The tour began with a video of construction of the system. The video gave us a better understanding of all the various energy saving initiatives and ongoing research. We learned that the number of species of fish in the local waterways has increased from 5 or 6 to numbers in the 60’s. The equipment used during construction progressed from using a fully functional rail system to haul out the stone removed to high speed conveyers several years later thanks to technology. 

We even saw, on display, a 400-million-year-old fossil a Cephalopod Orthocone from the Ordovician period found during construction on March 19, 1981 at the South Pump House Discharge by K.S.K. Miners. (see photos)

During the Ordovician Period, about 460 million years ago, some straight cephalopods grew to be as long as 19 feet, although most were much shorter. Straight cephalopods were common in Ordovician and Silurian times; coiled ones became fairly common only by later Paleozoic times. Fossils of cephalopods (sef'-al-oh-pods) have been found in rocks of many ages, and numerous representatives are alive today. Squids, octopuses, cuttlefish, and the chambered nautilus are among the cephalopods living in modern seas.

Cephalopods are the most advanced of all animals without backbones. They have a highly developed nervous system and have eyes much like those of humans.

The cephalopod's mouth is surrounded by long tentacles commonly armed with suckers. Beneath the tentacles is a tube through which the animal can force a jet of water and thus move about by jet propulsion.

More information about these creatures can be found at:

The interactive display showed the construction methods used to dig the deep tunnel, and all the various entry points into the system throughout the area, as well as a scale model of the underground systems.

We then took an elevator ride down over 300 feet to see the main pumping system used to begin the processing at the McCook site and then transfer the water at high speeds to the Stickney, Il processing plant. This pumping station is the largest in the world. It can pump over one BILLION gallons of sewage per day from a depth of over 350 feet below the surface. It’s 17,500 horsepower motors are the largest that the MWRD has. Our group photo shows us standing under an arch that represents the size of the deep tunnel. All of us were fascinated by all the technology used to monitor and process the storm waters, while protecting the water environment of Greater Chicago. When TARP2 is finalized in 2029 they will be able to store over 200 Billion Gallons during high storms and process out of the system. Prior to MWRD and the Deep Tunnel, sewage went into our waterways and the lake approximately every 3 days. This has been drastically reduced and when TARP 2 is completed it may only happen 2-3 days per year.


Our tour guide answered a lot of questions from the group and showed us the updated technology now being used to monitor the system. The system itself has complete backups from pumps to power sources and management systems. 

The tour was a great success and we are considering another tour within the next year or so. 

Thank you to our guide and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for such an interesting and informative look at the area’s underground systems that protect our water source and waterways!

2018 Golf Outing

The 2018 MHMS Golf outing took place on Friday, August 17th at St. Andrews Golf & Country Club. The day started out a little moist, but turned into a great day of golf, fun, food and networking with peers in the industry. As usual MHMS had a raffle drawing for great prizes, a 50/50 raffle and various skills contests throughout the golf course. The winners of the various skills contests were as follows:

1st Place - Low Team Gross: Justin Quirke, Jay Gardiner, Kevin McWilliams and Jim Kennedy
Longest Drive #10: Jay Gardiner
Longest Drive #14: Tim Harris
Closest To Pin #3: Tom Schneider
Closest To Pin #7: Chris Comer
Closest To Pin #12: David Thompson
Closest to Pin #15: Debbie Tworek

The day finished up with a buffet lunch, awards and prizes.

This years’ Presidents Award went to Todd Gillis. Todd is the treasurer for the Chicagoland Chapter of MHMS. He has been a long time contributor and instrumental in the success of our golf outing every year. We thank Todd for his dedication and commitment to the association for many years.

We would also like to thank all the companies supporting our efforts, without you this golf outing and the programs and scholarships we provide to young students wanting to get into this industry would not be possible.

2017 Sackett Systems Tour

Our 3rd MHMS tour of 2017 was a huge success thanks to Ginny, Tim, Dan, Chris and Paul at Sackett Systems in Bensenville, IL.

The new extractor training facility was a very interactive and informational aspect of the tour. Each attendee had the chance to change batteries using the new Sackett Hydra Handler system. We are very thankful to the entire Sackett team for hosting this MHMS event!

2017 Sony DADC Tour

We had another successful MHMS tour at Sony in Bolingbrook, IL. There were 25 attendees representing 8 companies across the Material Handling industry.

Rich, Tanya, and Chris educated the attendees on the tremendous success of the VLM and RadioShuttle projects at this Sony location. The tour definitely exceeded everyone"s expectation and lunch was a great networking event.

A huge thank you for Rich and Chris from Sony for hosting the tour.

2017 Method Soap Tour

We had a great tour at Method Soap in the Historic Pullman District of Chicago!

Jerry and Shannon did an unbelievable job of highlighting the history of the area and what sets Method apart from their competition. It truly was an amazing tour. People Against Dirty did not disappoint and definitely exceeded our tour expectation. After hearing the story and seeing how in tune Method is with the environment we will be promoting the product to anyone who will listen!

2015-2016 Event Photos

If you would like to see photos from 2015 and 2016, please click the button below.

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