The need for fresh, clean, reliable water sources will dominate geopolitics for decades to come. Fresh water is critical for wealth – and health. Many states in the U.S. are already facing water shortages – look not only to California or Arizona, but also places like Atlanta, which is struggling with severe drought conditions. Worldwide, 1.2 billion people, or 17% of the world’s population, are at risk from a lack of clean, available water.
Milwaukee's Water Industry
The Milwaukee Region lies on the shores of the greatest single source of fresh water on the planet, the Great Lakes. Situated along Lake Michigan and uniquely spanning both the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds (two largest watersheds in the United States), the Milwaukee Region is blessed with abundant fresh water resources, world-class research institutions and the highest concentration of water-related companies in North America, making it a world hub of water technology, research and policy.
The Milwaukee Region’s water industry is a $10.5 billion market, supporting 20,000 jobs and accounting for 4% of the total world water business. More than 120 water-related companies locate operations here, including five of the 11 largest water firms in the world. Many are headquartered here or nearby, including water industry giants Badger Meter, A.O. Smith and Kohler, along with a number of smaller, emerging firms. In 2008, GE and Pentair formed a global residential water filtration joint venture and they chose to locate their global headquarters in the Milwaukee Region.
Academic and Research Facilities
Academic and research facilities also put the Milwaukee Region at a distinct advantage, with more than 100 academic scientists and researchers focused on water in this region. The Great Lakes WATER Institute is the largest freshwater research facility on the Great Lakes, the Water Quality Center at Marquette University is a leader in anaerobic treatment and the Milwaukee School of Engineering is stepping up its work with companies to develop new, patentable products. Marquette University’s highly regarded Law School has also recently developed a water law curriculum stream.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's planned School of Freshwater Sciences will play a key role in linking companies and research facilities from academia together. The first of its kind in North America, the school will serve as a centerpiece for the academic and research cluster in the Milwaukee Region.
The new Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin on Milwaukee's lakefront connects innovation, science and technology with exploration, the environment and Great Lakes freshwater resources through interactive exhibits and learning programs. The S/V Denis Sullivan, a 137-foot re-creation of a three-masted, 19th century Great Lakes schooner, summers next to Discovery World and serves as an educational platform and scientific research vessel.
The Water Council
The Water Council was established to align the regional freshwater research community and water-related industries to further establish the Milwaukee Region as a world hub for water-related research and economic development, giving the region a leading role in water issues that will continue to dominate economic and political considerations worldwide. To learn more about the Water Council, click here.
Milwaukee Named a UN Global Compact City
Milwaukee joined an elite list of only 14 cities worldwide that have gained admission into the United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme. With this designation, Milwaukee achieves international recognition for the area's expertise and global leadership in fresh water technology and science. The focus of the program will be maintaining and improving water quality system dynamics, health, and sustainability as well as fresh water technology, policy, and management.