Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wants southeastern Wisconsin to be known as the “Fresh Coast.” Others have thrown around the phrase “Silicon Valley of water.”

Marketing verbiage aside, the conversation around turning this region on the shores of Lake Michigan into a fresh water business hub continues to grow louder.

Southeastern Wisconsin is home to the nation’s first graduate school for studying fresh water (atUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and its first water business institute (University of Wisconsin-Whitewater). The Milwaukee region has a cluster of more than 150 water technology companies, according to The Water Council, a Milwaukee-based organization launched in 2007 with the aim of making southeastern Wisconsin an international hub for fresh water research, education, and economic development. Xconomy plans to explore this sector with a series of stories on interesting water technology startups in the Milwaukee area. First up: Microbe Detectives.

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