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(MILWAUKEE, WI) - Milwaukee, Wisconsin sits at the confluence of three rivers and on the shores of Lake Michigan and is one of the most segregated cities in the country. The Milwaukee community is not sharing in the benefits from water infrastructure, including job creation and contracting equitably.
On June 21, 2021, the US Water Alliance released its report “Water Equity Taskforce Insights for the Water Sector,”' which builds a communal vision for an equitable water future by showcasing how Milwaukee and other cities are seeking water equity through racial, environmental, and economic justice.
Since 2018, Milwaukee has been working to spur a more equitable water future as a member of the Water Equity Taskforce, convened by the US Water Alliance. The Milwaukee Water Equity Taskforce members represent a range of stakeholder interests—utilities, nonprofits, neighborhood associations, workforce development organizations, and educational institutions.
Workforce equity requires aligning initiatives and partners to develop a robust talent pipeline for underserved communities. It is critical to increase awareness at the youngest ages through water-related education about how water and wastewater systems play a role in public health and protecting and improving the environment.
The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is working with a broad array of partners to build opportunities in our community for careers in the Milwaukee water sector.
The Fresh Coast Ambassador Program launched in 2018, is a collaboration between the Boys & Girls Club, Cream City Conservation, and MMSD. This program works with high school students to gain work experience in green infrastructure. Cream City Conservation and the Boys & Girls Club leverage their partnership with the local workforce development board, Employ Milwaukee, to connect young people to paid work experiences while providing career planning, support services, and culturally competent, social and emotional learning to ensure the young person can thrive and grow in the program.
The Fresh Coast Fresh Start (Fresh Start) pilot program launched in 2021 brings together community partners, Cream City Conservation, Milwaukee Jobs Work, and Milwaukee County Parks to provide opportunities for populations that are re-entering the community from incarceration or are under or unemployed. The Fresh Start program provides training on industry topics such as wastewater operations; conveyance construction; watercourse; and green infrastructure construction and vegetation establishment along with personal and professional development and wrap-around support services. The goal is to train adults to be workforce-ready and, in doing so, that leads to a job opportunity or apprenticeship.
In May 2021, Milwaukee Water Works, Veolia Water Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and MMSD, hosted the first One Water, Our Water: Explore Milwaukee Water Jobs Fair. This event is an extension of the Equitable Water Future Roadmap to build water workforce equity in Milwaukee by focusing on fostering greater awareness of water sector careers among individuals, groups, communities, and organizations within Milwaukee. A second Water Jobs Fair is being planned for the fall of 2021.
The Milwaukee Water Equity Taskforce efforts continue to strive for stronger collaboration among all those in Milwaukee’s water sector and meaningful changes to workplace culture, policies, and practices. The Taskforce believes that advancing these recommendations will help ensure that the economic, environmental, and social benefits resulting from community investments in water are more equitably shared by all.
Contact: Peter Coffaro - MMSD Deputy Director, Community Outreach & Business Engagement
firstname.lastname@example.org / (414) 225-2238
Contact: Lisa Sasso - MMSD Senior Project Planner
email@example.com / (414) 225-2048