15 Years & Growing

By Dean Amhaus, President & CEO

It’s hard to believe The Water Council was founded 15 years ago. It all began when some visionary business and civic leaders recognized the unique cluster of global water technology solution companies in the Milwaukee region and decided to bring that cluster together to enhance Milwaukee’s economic development.

Today, The Water Council is a world water hub, working with companies and organizations all over the world to solve global water challenges through innovation and stewardship. Here are a few numbers that demonstrate our impact over the last 15 years:

You can find even more numbers on our blog. Meanwhile, check out this  brief video we made to reflect on our history, milestones and future. We can’t wait to see what the next 15 years bring!

new leadership

Our 16th year in operation is starting with a new leader. Scott Beightol, partner at Milwaukee law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, is our new board chairman. Scott is Michael Best’s industry group chair for water and was elected to The Water Council’s board in 2018.

Our outgoing chairman, Jim Stern of A. O. Smith Corporation, will now lead our water stewardship committee. During Jim’s five years as chairman, we launched our WAVE program and successfully competed for a National Science Foundation Development Award to build a water and energy resiliency engine in Wisconsin. Thank you, Jim, for your leadership.

We also have a couple of new (or sort of new) board members to introduce to you. Based in Washington, D.C., Karen Dettmer (below left) is the acting director of water resources at Ramboll and manages the water resources division in the Americas. She previously served on our board when she was the superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works, and she also worked in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water as the managing director for infrastructure implementation.

Calling the Tampa, Florida, area home, Ifetayo Venner is the U.S. wastewater practice leader and infrastructure sustainability leader with Arcadis. She is immediate past president of the Water Environment Federation and an officer on WEF’s board of trustees.

I’m particularly pleased to welcome two board members representing global engineering firms, as this helps round out our board perspective and expertise. I know they will be valuable additions to our organization.

Karen Dettmer
Ifetayo Venner

NSF Resiliency engine

This has been a productive time for our NSF Resiliency Engine. As you know, The Water Council and our partners received a Development Award from the National Science Foundation last year to create an engine focused on water and energy resiliency for manufacturers and utilities. We have spent the start of the year refining our engine focus, and I am excited about the results.

We have also been meeting with stakeholders representing major Wisconsin manufacturers. We expect these groups to be an important part of the engine moving forward as they share their pain points when it comes to water and energy.

innovation update

Our innovation work is well underway for 2024. Last week, we held interviews with 13 finalists from eight countries for our BREW 2.0 Post-Accelerator. These companies offer a diverse array of products and services within the water space. We expect to announce the 10 companies for our 2024 cohort in early March. Many thanks to our BREW judges and our corporate sponsors, Beckhoff Automation, Xylem and Thales Water Advisors.

We are also preparing to kick off our spring Tech Challenge. Our sponsors, Badger Meter, A. O. Smith Corporation and Watts Water Technologies, have selected the following topics for the challenge:

Applications open in early March and are due May 19. Watch our website, social media or the next newsletter for more information.

water stewardship

Our water stewardship team is growing! We are pleased to announce that we have contracted Joe Ferrara, an experienced business development executive, as our senior consultant for WAVE in Europe. Joe will help introduce European organizations to WAVE and contextualize program benefits for operating in Europe, particularly in light of enhanced reporting requirements such as the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. Visit our website to learn more.

If Joe’s last name sounds familiar, that’s because his wife is our European representative, Beverley Ferrara. She will represent The Water Council and WAVE at WEX Global in Madrid, Spain, on March 4-6  and co-host WEX’s inaugural Sustainability Forum.

We are staying busy stateside as well, speaking on water stewardship at the Net Zero Forum held Feb. 26-28 in The Woodlands, Texas, and a Green Sports Alliance webinar on water in sports on March 21.

Finally, we are expanding our work with Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP), which serves the automotive industry and its supply chain. After developing a Water Stewardship Strategy Framework with SP in 2023, we will create a Water Stewardship Capacity Building System in 2024, providing customized assistance to help suppliers understand and apply water stewardship best practices from across the sector. In a similar fashion, we will build off our risk assessment work with the American Chemistry Council the previous two years to begin identifying opportunities for the sector to collaborate on projects that address shared water-related challenges where members are co-located.

new members

This month, we welcome new members Operational Technical Services of Los Angeles, California, and MANN+HUMMEL of Germany. Welcome to the hub where water works!

member news & opportunities

Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee