Our VisionLeadership. Synergy. Talent.

Who We Are

Established by leaders in both business and education, The Water Council is linking together global water technology companies, innovative water entrepreneurs, acclaimed academic research programs and, most importantly, some of the nation’s brightest and most energetic professionals. The Water Council is capturing the attention of the world and transforming the Milwaukee region into a World Water Hub for freshwater economic development, research, and education.

Letter From Our Co-Chairs

Together The Water Council, our members, partners and contributors celebrated benchmark accomplishments this past year: from the grand opening of the Global Water Center, to the launch of the Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator program, to the redevelopment of Reed Street Yards into a Global Water Technology Park.

The Center proudly opened its doors to the public, welcoming in excess of 800 people and initially housing 25 different organizations, while garnering significant media attention. National and international companies are now approaching The Water Council looking to establish operations and headquarters in the Milwaukee region.

In less than five years, not only has our size grown, but our scope has expanded exponentially. In 2013 we grew by more than 30 new members, including companies headquartered around the world. The Council has increased programming for start-ups and member companies of all sizes; education at middle, high school and college level; and has established credibility as an international hub for water technology innovation. Our Board of Directors, recognizing our tremendous growth, is developing a new Leadership Strategic Vision. This vision outlines accomplishments and strategies to maximize The Council's global reach in the water technology market.

We will continue focusing on Reed Street Yards as an important partner with the Center. Since moving to the Walker’s Point neighborhood, we’ve witnessed the flurry of work to ready the site for development and look forward to Reed Street Yards expanding the physical hub of water research, technology and innovation that the Center has already established.

Looking forward, 2014 promises to be another immense year for The Water Council. We will be hosting our 7th annual Water Summit, our largest Summit ever, coinciding with the International Water Association’s Board of Director’s meeting. The Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator program will accept a wave of applications for Round 2, a global solutions team of specialists in water-related fields will be developed to deploy to inquiring markets, and our colleagues at UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences will debut their new facility.

We’ve had a tremendously successful year thanks to our dynamic membership and partners in academia, government and business communities around the world, our vital financial supporters and strong staff. Our members are our best ambassadors – we look forward to working with you in the coming year to spread the word and share our vision as we expand our global impact. Thank you.

Photo Credit: Kahler Slater

MilestoneInnovative. Historic. Ecosystem.

"There really isn’t anything like the Global Water Center that we are aware of...This is – by far – the biggest venture that we've done." -Dean Amhaus, President & CEO, The Water Council
Photo Credit: Kahler Slater

Global Water Center

A historic moment for The Water Council and our members occurred at 247 West Freshwater Way when the Global Water Center opened its doors on September 12, 2013 and a vision became a reality.

The Center is a state-of-the-art facility meant to support and nurture water-related startups to independence, while also providing research space for universities and established water-related companies.

The development of the Global Water Center is an important milestone as it established a highly visible base for The Water Council and a platform to grow Milwaukee’s water technology cluster.

The Center is a one-of-a-kind research and business facility housed in a 98,000 sq. ft. seven-story warehouse loft in Walker’s Point. The building itself is a century-old, brick and timber construction and former warehouse, recognizing the past as it models how the City of Milwaukee is shifting from heavy manufacturing to a blue economy.

With the importance of creating a unique synergistic ecosystem encouraging innovative collaboration, The Water Council has created the world’s only water technology accelerator driving engagement between seasoned water professionals, researchers and entrepreneurs.

Shared amenities include:

  • Meeusen Confluence Gallery — Exhibition space to showcase new prototypes and host events
  • Paul & Pat Jones Board Room — Wired for international teleconferencing
  • Flow Lab — Containing a $500,000 Test Stand donated by Badger Meter and a Water Cycle Training System provided by NEW Works
  • Auditorium — 44-person lecture hall with A/V
  • Café — A gathering place for tenants and visitors
  • Green Roof — Provided by Hanging Gardens and Vegetal i.D.

Water, our most precious natural resource, now has a man-made resource dedicated to its survival thanks to the following investors and contributors:

  • A.O. Smith Corporation
  • Badger Meter Inc.
  • CD Smith Construction
  • FirstPathway Partners
  • Fund For Lake Michigan
  • Hanging Gardens LLC
  • HKS Holdings
  • Impact Seven
  • Paul & Pat Jones
  • Kahler Slater
  • KBS Construction
  • Dennis J. Klein Family
  • KPMG
  • Meeusen Family
  • Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee
  • Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.
  • Rexnord Foundation
  • Rexnord-Zurn
  • Richard & Ethel Herzfeld Foundation
  • Sloan Valve Company
  • The Bradley Foundation
  • Transwestern
  • UW-Milwaukee College of Engineering
  • UW-Milwaukee Peck School of Arts
  • UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences
  • US Bank
  • Xela Innovations LLC
  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Wisconsin Energy Foundation
  • Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority
"Walkers Point – a hot spot for development and the city’s newest cool neighborhood."
–BizTimes, 2013

Sample of Our YearExciting. Successful. Diverse.

Economic Development

Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator

The Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator is the first mentor-driven seed accelerator in the world to focus on addressing global freshwater challenges. Five participants were each awarded grants of $50,000 from The Water Council and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and moved into the Global Water Center to begin ‘start-up school’ with our partner, UW-Whitewater, in September 2013. Participants competed in the Elevator Pitch Olympics at the Early Stage Symposium in Madison, Wisconsin where Microbe Detectives and Noah Technologies placed first and fourth respectively. Inaugural GFSA participants: H2Oscore, Microbe Detectives, NEW Works, Noah Technologies and Vegetal i.D.

Reed Street Yards

The Water Council's Global Water Center has been the catalyst for the development of Reed Street Yards’ Global Water Technology Park. Development began in August, with infrastructure nearly complete, to transform the 15 acres/6.1 hectares into a mixed-use urban office, educational, research and technology zone focused on the international water industry. The Water Council also worked with the International Water Association’s Cities of the Future program to transform the location into a site that would include the creation of a micro-water and wastewater utility capable of pilot testing technology for use in urban and rural settings.

Leadership Strategic Vision

In 2013 The Water Council initiated the development of a “Leadership Strategic Vision” that will act as a plumb line to synchronize The Council’s mission, goals and strategic plan for future growth. This long-term plan repositions The Council as an international organization headquartered in Milwaukee while maintaining our core principals of economic, talent and technology development. The plan will be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

Technology Development

National Science Foundation’s Industry/University Collaborative Research Center

In 2013, industry members funded six water projects and the National Science Foundation (NSF) provided $400,000 in additional support. One patent application and three invention disclosures were submitted, research resulted in 20 journal/conference publications, and fifteen students and post doctorate researchers were funded.

Milwaukee Institute Partnership

Milwaukee Institute offered its high performance computational systems and services to tenants of the Global Water Center including technical consulting in computational biology and fluid dynamics applications. The Institute’s HPC cluster allows users to simulate, model, and visualize complex applications used in product development, engineering and research.

M.O.U. with Tianjin, China

The Water Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area Eco Center. The alliance draws on innovations of each of the groups to create an innovative, entrepreneurial-based commercial system between Wisconsin and Tianjin, China.

Talent Development

Student Chapters Make Waves

Launched in 2010 at UW-Whitewater, expanding student chapters are making waves across campuses at UW-Platteville, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Parkside, Marquette University and Gateway Technical College creating a talent pool for the water industry.

New Internships & Youth Apprenticeships

The Water Council partnered with the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board to fund and support newly created internships for college students in the regional water cluster. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development created a new Water Resources Youth Apprenticeship program pairing high school juniors and seniors with water treatment facilities.

‘Silicon Valley of Water’ Day at Young Professionals Week

The Water Council partnered with NEWaukee’s Young Professionals Week to create a day, sponsored by Badger Meter and Rexnord, devoted solely to water technology.

2013 International Visitors & CEO Travels

The opening of the Global Water Center sparked international interest from investors and partners and the momentum will continue in 2014 with numerous international delegations scheduling their visits.

International delegations and consulate visitors hosted by The Water Council in 2013
Conference and leadership participation in 2013 by Dean Amhaus, President & CEO of The Water Council

Snapshot of 2013 Events

Membership Meetings

Quarterly meetings continue to be an avenue for our members to engage with fellow Water Council members and students, hear from industry leaders and share ‘Member Drops.’ Keynote speakers joined us on behalf of Detroit Public Television, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Water Quality Association, InSinkErator, Wisconsin Water Association, City of Racine, GE Intelligent Platforms and Milwaukee Water Works.

Milwaukee Water Week

The Water Council hosted its inaugural Milwaukee Water Week culminating in the grand opening of the Global Water Center. The four days of events featured networking coffee hours, lunch-n-learn sessions, panel discussions, facility tours and evening receptions. Numerous high profile guests, including state and local elected officials, international visitors and a wide range of industry, academic and community members attended the sold-out grand opening of the Global Water Center.

Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition & Conference (WEFTEC)

The Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator winners participated in events at the Innovation Pavilion at WEFTEC—the largest national water-technology conference. The Water Council also participated in a closed-door meeting with all the water clusters in the United States.

German American Chamber of Commerce Roundtable

The Water Council partnered with the German American Chamber of Commerce to co-host a Water Technology Roundtable highlighting innovative German and American water-technology companies and networking lunch at the Global Water Center.

Robert W. Baird Investor Tour

Investors of Robert W. Baird visited the Global Water Center for a Global Water Discussion on new technologies, trends and markets featuring presentations by A. O. Smith Corporation, Rexnord Corporation, UW-Whitewater and water entrepreneurs in addition to plant tours at Badger Meter, Pentair, and the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility.


IEDC — Bronze Award for Economic Development

The Water Council received the Bronze Excellence Award in the Technology Based Economic Development Category from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

WCREW — Impact Award for Achievement

The Global Water Center received the Impact Award for Achievement from the Wisconsin Commercial Real Estate for Women (WCREW).


  • Centrisys Corporation Water Environment Federation’s Innovative Technology Medal
  • Kevin Shafer, Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Water Utility Infrastructure Management Journal’s 2013 Water Infrastructure Management Award
  • Kohler Co. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award
  • MillerCoors United States Water Alliance’s 2013 U.S. Water Prize
  • Paul Jones, Executive Chairman, A.O. Smith Corporation Milwaukee Business Journal’s 2013 Executive of the Year
  • PaveDrain Imagine H2O’s Early Revenue Track in the Innovations Business Plan Contest
  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation International Economic Development Corporation’s Silver Excellence in Economic Development Award in the category of Public-Private Partnerships

The Water Council thanks the following investors and contributors for their generous grants and gifts in 2013:

  • A.O. Smith Foundation
  • Badger Meter Foundation
  • David & Julia Uihlein Foundation
  • Helen Bader Foundation
  • Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation
  • Milwaukee 7
  • Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board
  • Milwaukee Public Schools - Arts & Humanities
  • National Science Foundation Options Grant
  • Reiman Foundation, Inc.
  • Rexnord Foundation, Inc.
  • Richard & Ethel Herzfeld Foundation
  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Wisconsin Energy Foundation

LeadershipCommitment. Visionary. Rainmakers.

Photo Credit: Kahler Slater

The Directors of The Water Council generously donate their time, knowledge and passion for the water industry. Their leadership is vital to the success of The Council and we thank them for their contributions.

2013 Water Council Board of Directors

  • Co-Chair Rich Meeusen President/CEO/Chairman Badger Meter, Inc.
  • Co-Chair Paul Jones Executive Chairman A.O. Smith Corporation
  • Treasurer Julia Taylor President Greater Milwaukee Committee
  • Secretary Barry Grossman
  • Todd Adams President & CEO Rexnord
  • Kirk Allen President & CEO Sloan Valve Company
  • Dan Bader President Helen Bader Foundation, Inc.
  • Tom Barrett Mayor City of Milwaukee
  • Glen Daigger Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer CH2M HILL
  • Gary Grunau President Grucon Group
  • Mary Jean Huston State Director The Nature Conservancy
  • Michael R. Lovell Chancellor University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Paul Purcell Chairman/President/CEO Robert W. Baird & Company, Inc.
  • David Ryder Vice President, Brewing and Research MillerCoors
  • Mark Sabljak Publisher Business Journal of Milwaukee
  • Michael Saltman Partner/President The Vista Group
  • Kevin Shafer Executive Director Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • Lee Swindall Vice President of Business and Industry Development Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Stephen Wells President Desert Research Institute

Water Council Staff

  • Dean Amhaus President & CEO
  • Meghan Jensen Director of Marketing & Membership
  • Elizabeth Thelen Director of Entrepreneurship & Talent
  • Angela May Office Manager & Executive Assistant
  • Ryan Matthews Communications & Development Manager


  • Isaiah Perez Marketing Intern
  • Kristian Vaughn Senator Herb Kohl – United Nations Global Compact Cities Programme Intern
  • Chao Li Graduate Intern
  • Alex Morganroth Graduate Intern

Past Water Council Staff

  • Claus Dunkelberg Director of Business Development
  • Deirdre Cudahy Director of Operations & Programming
  • Rachel Wilberding Director of Communications & Membership
  • Jose Fernando Moreno Graduate Intern

MembersInnovative. Dynamic. Rock Stars.

2013 Members

When The Water Council launched in 2009 we had five founding members. Less than five years later we have...

* Global Water Center Tenant

** Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator Winner

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