By Dean Amhaus, President & CEO
The Water Council has just wrapped up the busiest two weeks in recent memory. We saw many of you at our Water Leaders Summit the first week of October, and even more of you the following week at WEFTEC. Meanwhile, we hosted a delegation from Phuket, Thailand, and welcomed several new tenants to our headquarters at the Global Water Center.
To which I say, keep it coming.
Our Water Leaders Summit was held in person for the first time since 2019 at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Attendees loved the brand-new event space there and, more importantly, it seems like they loved the curated conversations with some exceptional panelists.
I was especially pleased to see attendees from the water technology sector learning more about water stewardship and vice versa. Innovation and stewardship will need to work hand in hand to address water challenges such as scarcity, flooding and contaminants. This year we tried something new by mixing attendees up at roundtables to discuss water issues – some referred to it as “water speed dating.” I do believe some valuable connections were made between attendees that will have a long-term payback.
Attendees were quite engaged with panels on topics including national water security, PFAS and water scarcity vs. economic development in the West. We heard more than once that some of the panels could have gone on longer. Also surprising was that after hearing about the opportunity to join a special water unit with the U.S. Army Reserve, one attendee immediately said, “Sign me up.”
We had some important news come out of the summit. We kicked off our corporate water stewardship panel by announcing that Toyota Motor North America is the newest client of our WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified program. Through WAVE, Toyota will improve water stewardship performance and reporting and undergo independent verification from SCS Global Services. Stay tuned for an official announcement soon.
Secondly, we gave our Water Warrior of the Year Award, sponsored by Ecolab, to STEM Forward. Each year we recognize a person or organization in Wisconsin’s water industry that supports the advancement of students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. STEM Forward promotes STEM education to all students in southeastern Wisconsin through collaboration with business, education, government and the community. Congrats, STEM Forward!
During the summit, we hosted a delegation from Phuket, Thailand, as part of the U.S. Water Partnership’s Water Smart Engagements program. In addition to attending our summit, the visitors toured a wastewater treatment plant and drinking water treatment plant in Milwaukee and attended WEFTEC. This partnership will continue for the next few years with visits back and forth as we help each other address our unique water challenges.
The following week, we moved on to WEFTEC in New Orleans. It was great connecting with members and partners, particularly at our reception at the Global Center Stage, which we co-hosted with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Here are some of the topics we discussed during WEFTEC programming:
Our innovation programming also remains active. Our fall Tech Challenge continues until Nov. 6 as we seek solutions involving contactless water quality sensors and in-situ water hardness monitoring. Finalists present their solutions to the corporate sponsors – A. O. Smith Corporation, Badger Meter and Watts Water Technologies – and compete for up to $10,000.
We also are accepting applications for our Future Water Leaders Fund Student Pilot Project through Nov. 1. This program, a collaboration of The Water Council, the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and the Fund for Lake Michigan, awards $3,000-$7,500 to help students launch water-focused pilot demonstration projects. Students must be currently enrolled in a Wisconsin public or private university.
Finally, we are assisting the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District in a request for information. The district is seeking submissions from European-based engineering firms with experience in climate resiliency and adaptation to help attain its energy efficiency and climate mitigation goals.
I was happy to see water stewardship on the minds of attendees of our summit and WEFTEC. Indeed, it’s hard to avoid it these days as we are bombarded by news of water scarcity in the West, catastrophic weather events in the East and water crises across the country.
We will discuss the importance of water stewardship in the overall ESG (environmental, social and governance) landscape at the Marquette Sustainability 2.0 Conference. ESG and sustainability experts from around the country will gather Oct. 26 and 27 to discuss how the adoption of ESG and sustainability standards in business and industry continue to give rise to an emerging paradigm for responsible and ethical business practice. The Water Council will lead a Water Policy & Practice Panel.
For a deeper dive into water stewardship, sign up for our Comprehensive Water Stewardship Training. This virtual training Dec. 7-9 is in partnership with the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership but is available to all, regardless of location or industry. Members of The Water Council, including Water Champions, receive 25% off registration.
We also welcome Regulosity as a new tenant in the Global Water Center. We have had several new tenants join us recently, including the aforementioned APX10, CDM Smith and The Nature Conservancy. If you’re looking for a location with a variety of office spaces available where you can connect with water professionals, consider the Global Water Center.