The Foundation of Our District       

Expansion of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad: 

In the mid-1800s, the City of Elgin was booming with productivity. The growth of the city was launched with the expansion of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad. As the train tracks put Elgin on the map, by 1851 Elgin became the third most important manufacturing town in Illinois. The Largest industries in Elgin at that time were textiles, stone, dairy and farm products. The city would continue to expand in 1855 with the addition of Elgin’s National Watch Factory. The factory would be the largest producer of fine watches in the United States, in addition to, being Elgin largest employer until 1968. Factories lined the streets of Elgin ranging in areas from a packing plant, shoe factory, shirt factory, silver plate factory, and even a publication company.  The city would also become known as the Butter Capital of the World due to the Elgin Butter Company that started production in 1871.         

Health of the General Population: 
As the expansion of the population arose in the city, environmental factories started to greatly impact the health of the general population.  The Fox River was a major source of ice before the advent of mechanical refrigeration; but by the winter of 1908 growing contamination of the river by gravel washers and untreated sewage, only one major ice cutter was in operation. Due to concern for the health of the population, the Chicago Board of Health condemned ice to be taken from the Fox River, and ice harvesting had shifted to the Northen Lakes. With this ban, attention was then given on how to reduce the pollution of the Fox River and deal with the ongoing problems of the growing amount of untreated sewage in the city. Elgin was not the only city in Illinois to understand the connection between untreated sewage and illness in Illinois, and in 1917 the State of Illinois passed the Sanitary District Act. Under this law allowed Sanitation Districts to form to develop wastewater treatment facilities and be able to protect residents from viruses and diseases that resulted from untreated wastewater.

Creation of the Sanitary District of Elgin: 
Armed with that knowledge, by the end of 1921 a petition authorizing a local election approving the creation of the Sanitary District of Elgin was granted. The election was scheduled for May 9, 1922. With the elections results in 480 people voted for the district and 131 voted against; the District was approved on May 21, 1922. After the election, a Kane County Judge appointed Edward N. Herbster, Charles F. Becker, and Mortimer M. Cloudman to be the visionaries in charge of developing the Elgin Sanitary District with the title of Board of Trustees. Charged with the responsibility of such a large task at hand, Elgin was only the sixth Sanitation District developed in the state. They hired E. E. Smith to help lead the ways as the District First General Manager. Understanding the prominence of their operation, the next step was to develop funding to create the wastewater facility.  With a special election held on Saturday January 26, 1924, the district was able to secure the bonds in the amount of seven hundred thousand dollars for the construction of the first treatment plant.

The District's Expansion:  
Since the beginning in 1922, the District’s service areas and treatment plant capacities have increased significantly. By the 1970s the District operated three wastewater treatment plants, 12 sewage lifts station, and numerous miles of sewer lines.  With the precedence to meet the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Illinois EPA water quality standards, the Sanitary District turned to a referendum to authorize the District to sell $7 million in bonds to make the required improvements to the Wastewater facilities.  This decade would also leave a lasting impact on the expansion of the Elgin Sanitary District. As the District expanded south past the city’s borders and incorporated South Elgin. The growth continued with intergovernmental agreements. The first agreement was with The Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) that led to the wastewater treatment of the Popular Creek Drainage Basin, and then incorporated the Village of Streamwood, portions of Hoffman Estates, and Bartlett. The second agreement was in the 1980’s with the Village of West Dundee. 

The Fox River Water Reclamation District: 
With the ongoing development of the boundary lines of the Elgin Sanitary District, the District’s name was no longer seen as a good representation. It was later decided in 1990 that the District wanted to be more inclusive and the name was changed to the Fox River Water Reclamation District (FRWRD). Construction began in July 2011 of development of a new Administration Building for the Fox River Water Reclamation District.  The project at 1957 LaFox (Route 31) in South Elgin was completed on June 14, 2012 with a public ribbon cutting celebration on June 25, 2012. The new facility is LEED registered, established by the U.S Green Building Council, “LEED” stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. The building itself serves as an interactive teaching tool, providing a unique experience for educating the staff, visitors, and the community-at-large as to opportunities for incorporating many of these Green and Sustainable principles into everyday lives. In June of 2023, the District celebrated our 100th Anniversary of the District. As the District moves forward, FRWRD remains committed to providing guidance and the leadership needed by employing the best treatment technologies at our treatment plants to protect the Fox River and to provide a leading role in the community is environmental needs. FRWRD is always looking for further opportunities to benefit the District.

Elgin Sanitary District/ Fox River Water Reclamation District Photo Gallery: 

Old Photo of Building and Car
Old Pictures Men Standing in front of table
Old Photo of Plant
Group of Men sitting at table
Old Photo of Elgin Watch Factory Building
Old Photo of Crane by the river
Old river construction site
Old Photo Men working Construction
Old Pictures Group of Men
Old building
Old Pictures of Tractor
Old Pictures pipes in a field
old photo of field and roads
Men Doing Construction Old photo
Old Pictures Crane and Horse Carriage
Old Pictures Construction Site
Old Pictures Construction Site
Old Pictures tank
Old Pictures Plant
Old Pictures plant
Old Pictures 022
Old Picture of Electrical Grid
Old Pictures 169
Old Pictures of Group Of Men and women
Old Pictures 110
Old Picture looking over river
Old Picture Construction site
River Bank
old pictures lab
Information on Display
Old Picture Lab
Old Picture gears
Old Picture Pipes
Old picture Man Construction Site
Old Picture Group of Men Construction Site