Jun 08, 2004

Hugh H. McMillan, 67

Guided Water Reclamation District's Advances

Hugh H. McMillan, general superintendent of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, particularly during the continuing, decades-long construction of the Deep Tunnel project, died of complications from a blood clot Friday, June 4, in Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Ill.

McMillan is remembered by former colleagues as smart, innovative and accessible.

"Mac was very brilliant and very understanding of his employees, always allowing and encouraging them to bring ideas to the table," said Terrence J. O'Brien, president of the district's board of commissioners. "He worked hard on issues that have improved the quality of water and had great impact on the Deep Tunnel and water reservoir projects."

McMillan, 67, helped raise the district's bond rating during his tenure from AA to AA+, "He was an integral part of moving along the stormwater management bill awaiting the governor's signature," O'Brien said. "He pressed hard for that." That legislation will transfer responsibility for putting together a stormwater management plan from Cook County to the district.

McMillan's joined the district in 1959 after graduating Valparaiso University and his postgraduate work at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He came on board as a junior electrical engineer and left as general superintendent in 1983 to work in the private sector.

But the bond to the district remained and in 1995 he came back to serve as the general superintendent.

"He loved his work, the district was his world," said his wife, Ann. "When you have been with an organization as long as he was, it was a part of his life. It was still in his heart and he wasn't just a paper pusher. He had a wonderful vision for all of the city and the country. The Deep Tunnel was part of that, but beyond that he wanted to pick up the slack for local communities in regards to flood management. He thought it would be very instrumental if one organization could help people."
In 1968 he moved over to sewage treatment plant management. Three years later, he took over as head of the North Side Treatment Works. In 1974, he was appointed deputy chief engineer.

In the fall of 1978, he became general superintendent, two years after the initiation of the Deep Tunnel project. Along with overseeing that $3 billion, 109-mile underground system's construction, he helped to expand and improve the district's treatment plants.

McMillan left the district in 1983 to take a position as a vice president with Paschen Contractors Inc., but left a few years later to work as an environmental engineer for the former Hydrodynamics Co.

He came back to the district in 1995, and before leaving in 2001 to join the Consoer Townsend Envirodyne Engineers in Chicago, he helped the district to find a location for the McCook Reservoir and to negotiate the purchase of the quarry for the Thornton Reservoir.

McMillan married Ann in 1985 after his divorce from his first wife, Peg.
Other survivors include three sons, Scott, David and Patrick; and two brothers, Joseph and Ian.
A mass will be said at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Catherine Laboure Church, 3535 Thornwood Ave., Glenview.