A World Water Hub

“Milwaukee is a community that recognizes how much water matters to their economy… But it was not just the traditional ways in which water matters: how we use it to grow things, make stuff in industry, ship things on the lakes, or pull fish out of it. It’s the smart water technology, too.”
-John C. Austin, The Brookings Institution, 2024

“Surprise: A city so known for its beer is also the freshwater technology capital of the United States, and home to one of the most mature water tech hubs in the world.”, 2022

Skyscrapers and the Milwaukee Art Museum, a white building shaped like a ship, face Lake Michigan and are reflected in the water.
Photo by Peter Zuzga

a world water hub

Milwaukee is a city built on water. Sitting on the border of Lake Michigan – part of the Great Lakes system that includes 20% of the world’s surface freshwater – and at the confluence of three rivers, water is inextricably woven into the city’s history.

But it’s also part of our future. Milwaukee boasts one of the largest and most mature water technology hubs in the world. Here you’ll find:

Civic and business leaders, recognizing Milwaukee’s status as a global hub for water technology, founded The Water Council in 2009. Although we work with water users and innovators around the world, we are proud to operate from the Global Water Center in the heart of the city and grow Milwaukee’s status as a place Where Water Works®.

Milwaukee’s World Water Hub is so respected that it has been used as a case study by Brookings and the Harvard Business School.

Click here for an article about how Milwaukee has revitalized its freshwater resources and turned water into its greatest asset.

A Water centric city

The City of Milwaukee’s Water Centric City Initiative recognizes the importance of water as essential to a sustainable and resilient future.

A Water Centric City is defined by seven principles:

  • Applied water research
  • Arts, talent, culture and education
  • Fishable, swimmable water
  • Green infrastructure
  • Sustainable, healthy water supply
  • Water leadership
  • Water technology

The Water Council is a proud partner of the Water Centric City initiative.

A leader in water restoration

Milwaukee’s industrial history made it what it is today, but it also has a downside in a legacy of water pollution. The region has taken great strides in restoring its freshwater, but it still has work to do. That’s why it is embarking on the largest restoration project in the history of the Great Lakes.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and many local partners – together known as the Waterway Restoration Partnership – are working to restore the Milwaukee Estuary, one of the EPA’s Areas of Concern along the Great Lakes. The largest planned project is a new dredged material management facility in the Milwaukee harbor. The $150 million facility will provide safe, secure containment for 1.9 million cubic yards of sediment that will be sucked out of the riverbeds. Construction is expected to start in 2024.

Visiting Milwaukee


The Water Council
247 W. Freshwater Way, Suite 500
Milwaukee, WI 53204 USA

We’re located in the Global Water Center.


Here is a list of some of the many hotels near the Global Water Center.

Drury Plaza Hotel Milwaukee Downtown
Kimpton Journeyman Hotel Historic Third Ward Milwaukee
The Iron Horse Hotel
The Pfister Hotel
Hilton Milwaukee City Center
Hyatt Place Milwaukee
Potawatomi Hotel & Casino 
Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee Downtown
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel Downtown Milwaukee
The Westin Milwaukee
Saint Kate the Arts Hotel


Boaters kayak down the Milwaukee River in green and blue kayaks next to a brown building with a sculpture of waves and fishes along its side.

Listed below are the area airports. Taxi, bus, ride share options and other transportation information can be found here.

General Mitchell International Airport
5300 S. Howell Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207 USA

Dane County Regional Airport
4000 International Lane
Madison, WI 53704 USA

O’Hare International Airport
10000 W. O’Hare Avenue
Chicago, IL 60666 USA

proud partner