EPA Water Chief Visits Milwaukee on Earth Day and Thanks Water Utility Workers for Protecting the Environment

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News Releases from Region 05

04/22/2019

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MILWAUKEE (May 22, 2019) — On Earth Day, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water David Ross visited Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he toured the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility and recognized its staff for their contributions to protecting public health and the environment.

“Our country’s water utility operators are everyday environmental heroes—tirelessly working on the front lines to provide clean and safe water services to our communities while protecting our environment,” said EPA Assistant Administrator David Ross. “It was a privilege to spend Earth Day with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District staff and thank them for helping to protect the Great Lakes.”

Assistant Administrator Ross began his trip by attending a Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) Commission Meeting, where he highlighted the need to support water sector workforce development and training to ensure the future viability of this critical workforce. Assistant Administrator Ross was joined at the meeting by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer, The Water Council President Dean Amhaus, and Kurt Thiede, chief of staff for EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp.

Roughly one-third of drinking water and wastewater utility operators will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years. In collaboration with its federal and industry partners, EPA is working to promote innovative programs and resources that help utilities attract and maintain a qualified and diverse water sector workforce so that American families and businesses can continue to receive clean, reliable water services. EPA has partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide information on water careers to disabled veterans and with the U.S. Department of Labor to promote tools utilities can use to set up apprentice programs.

Following the MMSD Commission meeting, Assistant Administrator Ross toured the Jones Island Reclamation Facility, where he saw how the facility treats captured wastewater from the metropolitan Milwaukee area and produces a fertilizer composed of heat-dried microbes that have digested the organic matter in wastewater. Assistant Administrator Ross was then given a tour of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Fresh Water Sciences where he was briefed on the cutting-edge freshwater research and science being conducted by its faculty, scientists and students.

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EPA Assistant Administrator David Ross speaking with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Commission Meeting on Monday, April 22, 2019. EPA Assistant Administrator David Ross with Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) Executive Director Kevin Shafer and MMSD staff at the Jones Island Reclamation Facility on Monday, April 22, 2019. EPA Assistant Administrator David Ross on a vessel during his tour of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Fresh Water Sciences on Monday, April 22, 2019.EPA Assistant Administrator David Ross touring the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Jones Island Reclamation Facility with Kurt Thiede, chief of staff for EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp and Scott Royer,  Vice President and General Manager of Veolia Water Milwaukee on Monday, April 22, 2019.

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