Message from the General Manager
In Environmental Services, we continuously evolve our planning processes and operational approaches to address the needs of our changing community. This flexibility was particularly urgent as we adapted to meet the challenges of 2021: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; supply chain issues that tested our operational agility; and increasingly stringent regulatory requirements that call for a smart, focused response.
In the face of these challenges, I witnessed an impressive spirit of collaboration — from our solutions-focused interagency water quality group to our ongoing involvement in COVID-19 wastewater analysis. This is part of our intentional focus on fostering a culture of true partnership, with our stakeholders in the region and internally as well.
Some of our highlights from 2021 include:
- Uninterrupted service despite the pandemic: We brought our people together — from employees who operate, maintain, and support our wastewater collection and treatment operations to those who work in our labs, from our offices, and at our construction sites — to evaluate the health and safety needs of staff and develop location-specific safety plans. This helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our workforce and allowed us to maintain our essential services.
- Planning for climate resiliency and responding to one of the worst droughts in our region’s history: Our staff spent extra time in the field monitoring the health of our region’s rivers, lakes, and streams. When oxygen levels in the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers dropped to dangerous levels due to drought, some of our wastewater treatment plants added oxygen to our treated effluent water to help preserve aquatic life. Through our turfgrass irrigation efficiency project, we provided community-based education about proper lawn irrigation and how to reduce water use.
- Building a more diverse workforce: To ensure we have a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, we made a formal commitment to racial equity in MCES. The process kicked off by gathering all-staff input to help set our direction. Paired with initiatives like our Construction Inspection Training Program — focused on recruiting diverse candidates — we are taking concrete steps to develop a workplace that better reflects the communities we serve.
The successful pursuit of our mission — to provide wastewater services and integrated planning to ensure sustainable water quality and water supply for the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan region — depends on the support and involvement of our many stakeholders. That’s why we solicit broad, inclusive feedback from customer cities, residents, community organizations, industry peers, and others to guide and inform our planning process.
From operational expansions designed to accommodate the needs of our growing population to water policy plans aimed at reducing the impacts of climate change across our region, our division is tasked with addressing complex issues. Working together with our partners, I am confident that we will continue to drive innovative solutions that serve the diverse needs of our region in the years and decades to come.
Learn more about our work and our mission, vision, and values.
Leisa Thompson, general manager