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Diversity and Community: Our Path to Success

02/22/23 09:00:am
Blue Notes article by Kevin Shafter, MMSD's executive director

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) rocks! This is due in large part to the diversity, passion, and dedication of MMSD's staff and the variety of business and community stakeholders that we are honored to work with and serve.

February is Black History Month. It is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans to MMSD, our region, and beyond. Black commissioners, leaders, engineers, and countless staff made huge contributions to make the environmental turnaround of the past two decades possible.

This month also reminds us how far we must go to address racial injustice. For MMSD, that means ensuring that we create a culture of belonging and inclusivity and making an equity-centered approach the focus of our talent recruitment and development strategies.

MMSD staff celebrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion month
MMSD staff celebrating Diversity month

Additionally, it means remaining committed to the long-standing policy of utilizing minority-owned businesses. In 2022, contract awards to minority-owned businesses totaled $10.2 million, or 9% of all contract awards. We've been blessed with partners who not only see the moral imperative, but also the social, economic, and environmental value thru all our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

I am grateful to have coworkers that are committed to creating an environment in which all are welcome and that all ideas and perspectives are respected. MMSD's diversity is part of its success.

MMSD's diversity aids us in our success of being a regional protector of our rivers and Lake Michigan. Our efforts, along with community partners, provide cleaner waterways for our drinking water, protect our recreational opportunities, restore our natural habitat, and make the Milwaukee region a better place to live. We are reversing the impact of years of water pollution through a wide array of diverse solutions.

Today, MMSD has fewer sewer overflows; we capture and clean over 98.5% of the water we receive. MMSD has over 20 years of implementing green infrastructure, which has helped to manage that drop of rainwater where it falls.

View of the Milwaukee River and the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge
The Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge over the Milwaukee River (photo credit: Chris Schultz)

Our two water reclamation facilities have a long history of excellent compliance with State and Federal requirements. MMSD is moving toward energy neutrality and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We are working with our agricultural neighbors to improve water quality in our region.  

MMSD's flood management projects are helping the region to buttress the impacts of climate change. Our clean water laboratory and monitoring teams provide us the evidence that the metamorphosis seen in our waterways is more than just visual. All of this, and more, has made MMSD a national model for good water management.

MMSD does rock, and the foundation for our success is due to the diversity of our team and the gifts and perspectives that we each bring to our work. Please help me to celebrate Black History this month!

Be Safe. Be Understanding. Be Kind.


Kevin L. Shafer, P.E.
Executive Director - Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District 

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