Growing Optimism in water tech

By Dean Amhaus, President & CEO

Can you believe we are in the final quarter of the year? We’ve already packed more than a month’s worth of activities into the first two weeks of October, and we’re not slowing down anytime soon.

After closing the last quarter with some thought-provoking discussions at our Water Leaders Summit, our month began, as it did for many of you, with WEFTEC in Chicago. I heard many people say this year’s WEFTEC was a “return to form” for the annual event, and I agree. It was well attended, and what’s more, I sensed a spirit of optimism and growth from just about everyone I talked to, including members, fellow water clusters, partners and new contacts.

Following WEFTEC, we brought back a busload of visitors from around the world to experience Milwaukee’s world water hub. More than 40 representatives of water technology companies and water organizations from Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Brazil and Canada joined us to learn more about the U.S. market, the work of The Water Council and Milwaukee’s water tech cluster.
It was a fantastic event full of expert panels, valuable roundtable discussions and some fun, too.

I especially enjoyed reading all the wonderful comments on LinkedIn from those who attended. As an example, Patryk Wójtowicz from the Savonia University of Applied Sciences in Finland said, “This was a fabulous event – looking forward to more cooperation in the nearest future!”

We are grateful to our event hosts, Rite-Hite and Baird, and our sponsor, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. A special shoutout to Karen Frost, Beverley Ferrara and Laura Mullen for pulling together an impactful event.

Included in the group were representatives of ECT of France, doing business in the U.S. as CORROSTOP, and Pipesonic of Canada. Both companies recently opened their first U.S. offices at the Global Water Center, our headquarters in Milwaukee. We are happy to have these new neighbors!

member meeting

We have plenty more events to close out the year, including our next member meeting on Nov. 14 at Bradley Corporation in Menomonee Falls. This meeting will be especially exciting because Bradley recently joined our WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified program and was just acquired by another member, Watts Water Technologies. We are excited to see how Watts will carry on the Bradley Corporation legacy while it strengthens its own presence in the Milwaukee area. Click here to register.

nsf resiliency engine

Meanwhile, we continue full steam ahead developing our Resiliency Innovation Engine. As you know, we’ve received $1 million from the National Science Foundation to develop a regional engine in eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois seeking water and energy resiliency solutions for manufacturers and utilities. We held an informational roadshow about the engine in Racine last week and will hold one more today in Rosemont, Ill.

The next step is to begin holding focus groups with various types of stakeholders, such as manufacturers, utilities, water tech companies, energy companies, university researchers and the investment community. We want to find out what problems need to be solved and make sure we have aligned the right R&D, funding, workforce and support to find solutions. Visit to learn more and sign up for our mailing list.

innovation update

Our Tech Challenge is open for just a few more weeks. Entrepreneurs, researchers, startups and established companies have until Nov. 5 to submit solutions for:

Tech Challenge applicants compete for a prize of up to $10,000 and the chance to present their innovations to our corporate sponsors – A. O. Smith Corporation, Badger Meter and Watts Water Technologies.

We are also running a request for information (RFI) on behalf of Green Lake Association seeking effective and proven technologies, materials, systems or engineered solutions for addressing excessive phosphorus and duckweed loading. The RFI deadline is also Nov. 5.

After that, we move right into BREW 2.0 application season opening in early November. BREW 2.0, sponsored by Beckhoff Automation, Thales Water Advisors and Xylem, is a next-stage post-accelerator created to help young companies build connections and grow their company’s capacity. The content focuses on expert-led sales and growth training tailored for water tech businesses.

The 2023 cohort included exciting startups from around the world, and we expect another strong group in 2024. Please share this opportunity with late-stage companies in your network.

water stewardship

Our water stewardship work continues to grow. We recently reached agreements with two major companies to participate in our WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified program, and I’m excited to announce those companies in the coming weeks.

We also continue to build our reputation for thought leadership in corporate water stewardship. Next week, our vice president of water stewardship, Matt Howard, will speak at the National Association for Environmental, Health & Safety, and Sustainability Management (NAEM) Forum on a panel linking corporate biodiversity goals with water stewardship. He heads straight from here to an American Chemistry Council workshop to provide hands-on guidance to Houston-area members on how to assess water risk at their facilities in relation to the surrounding watershed.

Other upcoming speaking engagements include the Rockwell Automation Fair and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers Annual Conference.

new members

This month, we welcome new member Samuel, Son & Co. I’m also pleased to announce a reciprocal membership with the Green Sports Alliance. More and more venues, leagues and teams are starting to look at their water-related risks and opportunities, and The Water Council can help.

member news & opportunities