The Milwaukee region should create an agency to coax growth out of its patchwork water-technology sector and devote a research park to water industries, according to civic and business leaders who want the area to become the “Silicon Valley of water technologies.”

The strategy emerged from a two-day brainstorming session at a Walworth County resort – no cell phones allowed – involving officials from several water-related companies, two universities, economic development agencies and aides to elected officials.

“There was a lot of discussion about, ‘Should we place this bet?’ ” said Bruce Keyes, an attorney at Foley & Lardner who attended the session. “Everyone understands that the potential upside is huge. By the end of the second day, people were solidly in.”

If a single economic growth idea has seized Milwaukee’s imagination in the past year, it’s the oft-cited demand for water treatment systems in a world where a third of the population is projected to lack clean water by 2025, according to the United Nations.

View the full story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel