MWRD Commissioner Kimberly Neely Du Buclet, a Champion for Environmental Justice (Chicago, IL) – Growing up on the south side Chicago, Kimberly Neely Du Buclet had to deal with her family’s home flooding nearly every time it rained.
“We had to put our appliances like our washer and dryer on a pallet and literally take a shovel to shovel the sludge out of our basement and deal with the smell. As a young child and young adult I didn’t know what was happening and what remedy we had for it,” said Du Buclet
That fueled her interest in environmental justice for all in the community. When she was previously elected as Representative in the Illinois General Assembly for the 26th district, she became deeply involved in the politics behind water and climate change.
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“Then when the former President Trump became elected in 2016 and I saw he was systematically dismantling all the environmental protections that had been in place for years by both Republican and Democratic administrations, I just thought what can I do to jump in here and help remedy this problem. I thought what he was doing was disastrous for US citizens and our environment,’ said Du Buclet, who was elected to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) Board of Commissioners in November 2018.
As a commissioner, she said her goal is to work to increase awareness of environmental justice issues throughout Cook County and to increase open green space for communities while providing additional green infrastructure opportunities for water conservation.
“When it comes to issues about water, we should all be concerned about our environment. What goes into our environment and what gets deposited into our drinking water such as Lake Michigan should be important to all of us,” said Du Buclet, who is also chairman of the Federal Legislation and Stormwater Committees and trustee for the MWRD Pension Fund. “These issues often affect black and brown communities. Back in the 1900s, banks routinely engaged in systematic living practices called red lining. They denied loans to people of color seeking to purchase homes in outside areas that were deemed undesirable. These undesirable areas were typically built in areas with higher flood risk. Those were often the only homes that we had access to.”
Prior to joining the MWRD Board, Du Buclet served as the Legislative and Community Affairs Director for the Chicago Park District where she worked with community organizations and elected officials around the city and the state to improve parks and park programming throughout Chicago.
“I love the Chicago Park District,” she said. “I would help organize and oversee all the park advisory councils around the city so these community members would have a voice in the type of programming and activities that would happen in their neighborhoods and parks. I worked with aldermen on improvements for parks or even helped them build new parks. We would go around looking for vacant lots in neighborhoods and turn those vacant lots into green space.”
Du Buclet previously served as a national Council for consistently voting with the environmental caucus. She continues to strive to fulfill her mission of protecting the quality of the area’s water supply, improving the quality of water in the waterways and to protect businesses and residences from flood damage across Cook County. “We are one of the most important agencies that nobody knows about when it relates to rain water, storm water or anytime you flush your toilet.”
MWRD Commissioner Kimberly Neely Du Buclet, a Champion for Environmental Justice