Interim Milwaukee DPW commissioner accepts EPA appointment

Karen Dettmer

Karen Dettmer, Milwaukee's interim Department of Public Works commissioner, has accepted an appointment to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the city announced Wednesday, March 23.

Dettmer will serve as managing director for infrastructure implementation at the EPA's Office of Water. In that role, she will oversee strategy for a $50 billion water infrastructure investment.

Dettmer has worked in city government for the past 15 years, including as superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works. Her role in Milwaukee will conclude in roughly three weeks.

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Acting Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson has submitted the appointment of Dettmer to serve formally as DPW commissioner. The timing of the nomination is the direct result of the need to designate special deputies, a city news release said.

Statement from Dettmer:

"Very few opportunities could pull me away from public service in the City of Milwaukee. I am grateful for the trust former Mayor Barrett and Mayor Johnson have put in me to oversee the Milwaukee Water Works and now the Department of Public Works. I am excited to bring my experience managing the drinking water utility and public works in Milwaukee to inform and ensure equitable distribution of the historic water infrastructure investment."

Statement from Johnson:

"Karen has distinguished herself in her work at the Department of City Development, at the Milwaukee Water Works, and at the Department of Public Works. This city is stronger because of her contributions.

"I join her colleagues in wishing Karen continued success in her new endeavors."

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