The Operational & Community Benefits of P3s: Lessons from MMSD

Posted on February 28, 2018

Throughout the beginning of 2018, the US Water Alliance has introduced a seven-part webinar series promoting the biggest ideas in sustainable water management.

The most recent, blending public and private expertise and investment to address water infrastructure needs, highlighted the successful public private partnership between Veolia and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD).

Kevin Shafer, Executive Director of MMSD, and Scott Royer, Vice President and General Manager of Veolia Milwaukee, discussed how choosing to partner with a private company can yield not only operational excellence benefits, but also predictability of future rates and social investment returns.

This strong public-private relationship is based off of years of trust, excellence in operations and collaboration between Veolia and MMSD. Kevin Shafer says that when he thinks of a public private partnership he sees it like “When you hire someone to mow the grass in your front yard, you still own the grass, and the yard, but someone else is maintaining that yard for you.”

Public private partnerships do not have to mean an asset sale or a transfer of ownership to a private entity. Like many public private partnerships, MMSD continues to own all of their assets while outsourcing the operation and maintenance of them.

Working with a private partner also has benefits for the existing workforce. As part of the partnership, Veolia hired all 140 previous MMSD employees with a continued focus on developing and sustaining a workforce that mirrors the local population. Constantly thinking of the future of the industry, Veolia hires summer interns and year-round university co-ops and is launching an apprenticeship program to nurture the next generation of employees.

As Scott Royer mentioned in the webinar, Veolia and MMSD are strong believers in the future of the planet and are constantly looking for environmentally friendly solutions. At the top of the city’s water reclamation facility on Jones Island is a peregrine falcon nest that has seen 13 young chicks hatch over the course of 10 years.  This humble nesting box provides environmental protection for a species whose strength and population depends on adaptation to the urban environment.

milwaukee metropolitan sewerage district falcons

The operations partnership with MMSD is just the beginning of the strong ties Veolia has in the community. Through tours and site visits to over 30,000 people since 2008, emergency relief efforts, and the introduction of education activities like the Water Box, Veolia believes in being a part of the community in which we work.

MMSD and Veolia work around the clock to ensure the protection of Lake Michigan and provide state-of-the-art wastewater treatment services to over a million customers in 28 communities.


If you want to learn more about the Milwaukee Wastewater Treatment Facility, download the Milwaukee tour placemat!


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