MILWAUKEE – This is a town that understands water. People flock to new and renovated downtown apartments with riverfront views. Its waterfront along Lake Michigan is accessible for miles on end. Its mayor talks about its “Fresh Coast” location. Its municipal sewer system is internationally recognized for its water conservation. It has one of only three graduate-level studies in freshwater sciences in the world.

Give credit to where it’s originally due: beer. And tanneries. And other big users of water that more than a century ago provided the opening for today’s water opportunities. As New York State and especially Western New York look at access to vast freshwater supplies as a possible engine for attracting people and jobs, the region’s educators, scientists, business leaders and politicians might do well to take lessons from a Great Lakes shore city that has a track record.

Milwaukee is a community that understands the concept that the abundant supply of water can be a driver of economic activities as worsening droughts grip other parts of the nation and the world.

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