$2 Million Grant Will Train Minorities, Help Replace Lead Laterals
Federal infrastructure funds help Milwaukee Water Works expand, diversify workforce.
The Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) is receiving support from the federal government in its quest to ramp up the replacement of lead service lines and expand and diversify its workforce. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined city officials Tuesday afternoon to announce a $2 million grant at the Department of Public Works field operations facility, 3850 N. 35th St.
“One of our top priorities right now is to recruit people to careers in the water sector, and as part of that, we’re focused on building a workforce that reflects the diversity of Milwaukee. This $2 million grant and the partnership with Employ Milwaukee will help us address these challenges: The funding that Senator Baldwin secured will go directly to recruiting and developing individuals for careers in the water sector,” said acting MWW Superintendent Patrick Pauly in a statement.
Job opportunities for those in the program won’t be limited just to the Milwaukee Water Works. The partners will also work with other area water utilities. Private contractors, many of which perform work for MWW, could also hire individuals from the program.
“MWW and regional contractors need skilled workers for current and future openings at all levels, particularly at the entry and middle skill levels,” says the grant request. Current pay for the positions is approximately $18 per hour plus benefits. Approximately 50% of the current workers are eligible for retirement in the next decade according to the grant request.
“We all know, infrastructure doesn’t rebuild itself—we need more trained and skilled workers to do it and that is why I worked to deliver federal funding for this partnership between Employ Milwaukee and Milwaukee Water Works,” said Baldwin in a statement. “This federal investment, which was also signed into law by the President, will provide employment and job training services for low-income and underrepresented job seekers. It will strengthen the workforce of pipefitters, plumbers and water utility professionals and it will improve the career outcomes for workers in Milwaukee.”
Vice President Kamala Harris visited Milwaukee in January to tout the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and how it would provide more funding to replace lead laterals. A total of $48 million is expected to be allocated to Wisconsin in the next year for the work and divided between its cities.
Pauly, in March, warned that the city was reaching a “tipping point” with its water workforce and was increasingly paying the price for it by having to hire more contractors. “We have slowly lost those long-tenured employees over these ten years, which has led to a significant amount of instability,” said the acting superintendent during a discussion about city pay rates.
More about the Lead Crisis
- City Hall: City Unveils Latest Lead Lateral Plan - Jeramey Jannene - May 24th, 2023
- Eyes on Milwaukee: New Emergency Housing For Those With Lead Poisoning - Jeramey Jannene - May 8th, 2023
- New Funding Supports Environmental Health Efforts in City of Milwaukee - Revitalize Milwaukee - Apr 30th, 2023
- State Will Get $139 Million Federal Funds for Water Infrastructure - Danielle Kaeding - Apr 9th, 2023
- Marquette Law School’s Water Law and Policy Initiative to host Congresswoman Moore for a conversation on Wisconsin’s lead pipe problem, April 5 - Marquette University - Mar 30th, 2023
- Senator Baldwin Helps Deliver Over $62 Million for Clean Drinking Water in Wisconsin - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Feb 24th, 2023
- City Hall: Milwaukee Faces Complicated Question On What Lead Pipes To Replace Next - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 23rd, 2023
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Revitalize Milwaukee Plots Major Expansion - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2023
- Senator Baldwin Supports New Initiative to Accelerate Lead Pipe Removal in Wisconsin - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin - Jan 27th, 2023
- Wisconsin Communities Act to Prevent Lead Poisoning - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Aug 17th, 2022
Read more about Lead Crisis here