No Rest for the Water Sector

By Dean Amhaus, President & CEO

Well, we did it. We’re coming off a week that included the Water Leaders Summit, our biggest event of the year, along with a meeting of Great Lakes WISE and the Asian Development Bank Roadshow. You can read more about all these below.

But there’s little rest for our team, as WEFTEC is less than two weeks away. That’s followed by our international business development event in Milwaukee, when we will host more than 40 guests from Europe plus companies from Brazil and Canada. That event is full, but if you are an overseas company hoping to learn more about Milwaukee or The Water Council, please contact Karen Frost, our vice president of economic development and innovation, or Beverley Ferrara, our European representative.

Further reinforcing Milwaukee’s position as a water technology hub, we are collaborating with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) in welcoming to Milwaukee two “reverse trade missions” focused on water and wastewater technologies following WEFTEC with representatives from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. Contact Christopher Lynch if you are interested in meeting with the delegations in Chicago during WEFTEC or Milwaukee afterward.

With the business development event and reverse trade missions, we will have representatives of 13 countries visiting The Water Council, the highest total I can recall visiting us and our members in one week.


The Water Council will once again have a strong presence at WEFTEC. Below is a list of our speaking engagements. Members, please let us know what you’ll be doing at WEFTEC and watch for our Know Before You Go guide soon.

Looking back at the water leaders summit

We’re still feeling the glow of last week’s Water Leaders Summit. I believe it was one of our strongest summits yet in terms of content. As our moderator, Charles Fishman, stated, “This year hit the mark on what I think of as benchmark No. 1 for attendees: Sending people home with fresh ideas, fresh tools, fresh ‘mental framing’ to tackle their own work.”

One first-time attendee said to me, “I’ve attended many events over time, but this is the first one where I actually learned something new.”

Check out our blog for a more in-depth look at this year’s event, and click here to see more photos of the event by photographer Kevin McIntosh. We’ll announce the dates for next year’s summit soon. We are grateful to our sponsors, including presenting sponsors A. O. Smith Corporation, Badger Meter and Watts Water Technologies.


ADB Roadshow

Immediately following the Water Leaders Summit, we co-hosted the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Roadshow with the U.S. Commercial Service-Wisconsin. Representatives from the ADB, World Bank, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, USAID and U.S. International Development Finance Corporation helped water technology companies learn how they can get involved in infrastructure projects in developing nations.

Here are my takeaways from the event:

  1. There are numerous water and infrastructure projects in Asia seeking participation of U.S. companies.
  2. Projects include physical products and services.
  3. Large amounts of funding are available.
  4. Some of these projects are for smaller amounts, making it more attractive to all businesses.

Our staff learned as much as the attendees about the opportunities to work with these agencies on overseas projects. We will continue to work with them to share opportunities with our members, such as the reverse trade missions we detailed earlier in the newsletter.

We are grateful to M.E. Dey & Co. and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for sponsoring the event.

NSF Resiliency Engine

We certainly haven’t forgotten about our Resiliency Innovation Engine during the busyness of the last few weeks. In fact, our Water Leaders Summit, which focused on resiliency, kicked off with an interview with Daniel Goetzel, entrepreneurial lead of the National Science Foundation’s Regional Innovation Engine program.

Goetzel described how this NSF program is expected to transform the state of technology development across the U.S. We and our partners are so fortunate to be part of this unique and powerful time in shaping our nation’s future economy.

We also recently conducted informational sessions in Milwaukee and Madison to help potential stakeholders learn more about our effort to build an economic engine focused on water and energy resiliency for manufacturers and utilities. We have two sessions remaining: Oct. 10 in Racine, Wis., and Oct. 18 in Rosemont, Ill. Whether you attend a session or not, make sure to sign up for our NSF Mailing List to stay informed on engine developments.

Water Stewardship

For more than two years, The Water Council has been working with Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP) – an association of global automakers and their suppliers working to advance sustainability through the automotive supply chain – on water stewardship in the auto sector. Our work reached another milestone last week with the publication of a new guidance document, the “Water Stewardship Strategy Framework.”

The guidance document introduces a strategic framework and industry-driven water stewardship ambition for companies in the automotive value chain. The Water Council led creation of the document with SP’s Water Stewardship Work Group, co-chaired by Andy Hobbs of Ford Motor Company and Mark Yamauchi of Toyota Motor North America.

Our water stewardship work continues to grow across sectors as more and more businesses recognize the importance of water to their operations. This month, nearly 100 people registered for a webinar about our WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified program. Click here to see a replay of the event.

Finally, in conjunction with our Water Leaders Summit, we held the second in-person meeting of Great Lakes WISE (Water Innovation & Stewardship Exchange) last week. We are a partner in this business forum, led by the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), focused on deepening peer-to-peer conversations around water stewardship best practices, effective water sustainability policies, and collective action projects addressing regional water challenges and opportunities across key sectors in the Great Lakes.

Regardless of what industry your company operates in, if you would see value in this business network on water stewardship, please contact Lora Shrake with CGLR.

Innovation update

Our fall Tech Challenge is now open. We invite entrepreneurs, researchers, startups or established companies to submit their innovations in the areas of:

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. Applications are due Nov. 5.

Also this fall, we are conducting a request for information on behalf of one of our members, Green Lake Association (GLA). GLA seeks effective and proven technologies, materials, systems or engineered solutions for addressing excessive phosphorus and duckweed loading. Please respond by Nov. 5. Click here to learn more.

New Members

This month, we are excited to welcome new member Grundfos! Our reach continues to expand worldwide. If you’re not yet a member, contact Laura Mullen to learn more about the benefits.

Member news & opportunities