The Metropolitan Sewer District of Louisville, Kentucky, might seem an unlikely place to jumpstart a conversation on more equitable cities. But after Mayor Greg Fisher made economic inclusion a priority of his administration, MSD’s chief executive Tony Parrott was inspired. He knew barriers existed in low-income communities to participate in the local water infrastructure workforce. In the face of climate change, as addressing that infrastructure has become more pressing, he wanted to prioritize hiring members of the community not traditionally recruited to that sector.
For the past year and a half, the Metropolitan Sewer District and local stakeholders have participated in the US Water Alliance’s Water Equity Taskforce, an initiative for cities to collaborate on equitable water policies and practices and determine best practices. Cities include Atlanta, Georgia; Buffalo, New York; Camden, New Jersey; Cleveland, Ohio; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In April, Buffalo was the first city to release its Water Equity Roadmap, which identifies critical challenges in achieving water equity, including affordability, water quality and infrastructure. Louisville went in a different direction with its report released this summer. The city will focus on achieving equity in its growing water sector workforce.
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