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Milwaukee's Water Role is Recognized Nationally and Globally

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S Bence
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Milwaukee's water tech status bolstered by physical growth, selection as IWA's North American regional office, along with participating in White House Water Summit.

The Obama Administration decided to spotlight the importance of water challenges facing communities and regions across the United States by hosting the first-ever White House Summit on Tuesday. 

The Water Council and the City of Milwaukee also announced Tuesday that the International Water Association, or IWA, hand-picked Milwaukee for its North American Regional Office.

According to their website, IWA is an organization "that brings together people from across the water profession to deliver equitable and sustainable water solutions for our world."

IWA is also the largest professional organization for water professionals in the world, Dean Amhaus says. He’s executive director of The Water Council.

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Credit S Bence

“They’re headquartered in the Hague and London. They have offices in China and Africa. They have six offices, I believe, and Milwaukee will be its North American office. This will become their base of operation within the United States and Canada to build up their membership,” Amhaus says.

He says IWA represents the cream of the crop in the water world. “From a global standpoint, the organization’s tying together the entire water industry."

And, Amhaus anticipates IWA will recruit locally. "I think frankly that's the most important thing - hiring from within the local area because then you know the industry, the makeup of things....it’s just better having someone from here,” Amhaus says.

As for the White House Summit, Amhaus says its goal is not simply to talk about the burden being bourne by the citizens of Flint, Michigan, and the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The summit is designed to highlight strategies that can signal innovative strategies to conserve, protect and rethink the national conversation around water, he says.

Amhaus believes the summit could have far-reaching implications. He compares the gravity of the water situation to the energy crisis of the 1970s. “The President of the United States stepped up and said we’ve got a crisis. And there was a whole new Department of Energy, money spent on innovation and trying to find solutions to address the challenges."

While billions of dollars are funneled into energy research today, water research is allocated only millions, Amhaus says. “And so I think having the White House and the power of the White House say this is a priority for us will make a strong signal to industry, and universities and hopefully the federal government they need to increase their activity."

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.