Living astride the Great Lakes, it’s easy to forget how much of the world is parched. In the desert Southwest, most available water has been tapped, and the usual sources are stressed by population growth, drought and the growing uncertainty of climate change. The nation’s biggest manmade reservoir – Lake Mead – is at half capacity and sports a white “bathtub ring.” From Los Angeles to Atlanta, drought threatens water supply.
But the United States is pampered by global standards. Twenty percent of the world’s population has no access at all to fresh drinking water, and 40% faces health risks from poorly treated wastewater.
Out of such pressing needs, though, can spring innovation, and there is a growing hunch in southeastern Wisconsin that this region can provide at least some of the solutions and, in time, become a major force in water technology.