Metropolitan Officially Signs on to Initiative to Bring Greater Equity to Construction of the Nation’s Infrastructure
Equity in Infrastructure pledge seeks to bolster underutilized businesses in construction contracts
LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has officially joined a movement to increase equity in the nation’s infrastructure construction economy and help build generational wealth in underrepresented communities across the country.
Metropolitan board Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray and General Manager Adel Hagekhalil this week signed the Equity in Infrastructure pledge, joining four other leading infrastructure-constructing agencies – Chicago Transit Authority, Denver International Airport, Port of Long Beach and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority – as founding members of the initiative designed to drive access to contracting and procurement opportunities for underserved and underutilized businesses.
“This collective represents a broad commitment to businesses that have historically been shut out, helping remove barriers so that more women- and minority-owned businesses can fully engage in these large infrastructure projects that create jobs and drive our local economies,” Hagekhalil said.
Metropolitan’s Board of Directors in March authorized the district’s participation in the project, which promotes information-sharing on best practices, expands vendor databases to diversify the bidding pool, and lays the foundation to develop more diversity in business opportunities.
“This initiative represents the chance to do something important,” Gray said. “Over the next 10 years, Metropolitan plans to spend $3.2 billion to upgrade and maintain our massive water infrastructure as part of our capital investment program. We can make sure historically underserved communities and underutilized companies have more opportunities to be a part of those projects, creating a bigger gateway to progress, advancement and economic equity.”
The Equity in Infrastructure Project also advances the goals of President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to ensure 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal investments in infrastructure projects, including water and clean energy projects, help disadvantaged communities.
Among the projects that could help fulfill that goal is Metropolitan’s Pure Water Southern California, a large-scale recycled water project that when completed, will produce up to 150 million gallons of water daily, enough to serve more than 500,000 homes and making it one of the largest advanced water treatment facilities in the world.
Metropolitan’s participation in the Equity in Infrastructure Project will be led by the district’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office, headed by Chief DE&I Officer Liji Thomas.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provides water for 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.