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Project Milwaukee
Springing from conversations with concerned community members, WUWM journalists developed Project Milwaukee -- in-depth reporting on vital issues in the region. Each Project Milwaukee consists of WUWM News reporters and Lake Effect producers teaming up to create a series of interviews and reports on a specific topic culminating in a public forum or live broadcast.WUWM tackles subjects of importance to southeastern Wisconsin by focusing on issues that warrant extensive coverage. The topics chosen are based on concerns we've heard from residents and community leaders.WUWM hopes that our coverage helps to further the understanding of broad, significant subjects, and encourages additional debate in the community.WUWM's Project Milwaukee. Our region. Our future.------------------------------------------------------------------PROJECT MILWAUKEE SERIES ARCHIVEGreat Lakes, Troubled Waters - May 2019With our proximity to Lake Michigan and world-class water research, why don't we have clean water?To Protect And Serve - March 2018Police, Community & A Time of TransitionSegregation Matters - March 2017Innovation - How Do We Compete? - February 2016Black Men in Prison - November 2013Why are so many Wisconsinites behind bars? And, what are the costs?Power Switch - June 2013The Promise and Reality of Green Energy in WisconsinHelp Wanted - October 2012Uncovering the Truth Behind Wisconsin's Skills GapState of Upheaval - December 2011Southern Connections - June 2011Cultivating a Regional CorridorWhat's On Our Plate? - November 2010The Impact of Wisconsin's Food EconomyBarriers to Achievement in MPS - June 2010The Currency of Water - December 2009Black & White - June 2009Race Relations in MilwaukeeWise Today, Well Tomorrow? - November 2008Youth Violence - June 2008Creating a Vibrant Regional Economy - November 2007

What Does It Mean For Milwaukee To Be A 'Water Hub?'

Audrey Nowakowski
Milwaukee considers itself to be a "water hub," but what does that really mean?

WUWM's Project Milwaukee series Great Lakes, Troubled Waters is examining the topic of clean water, or the lack thereof, in southeastern Wisconsin — particularly in a place like Milwaukee that considers itself to be a "water hub."

Water hubs are places where industry, research, and academia converge in their efforts to create sustainable efforts or create new technology utilizing one of our most precious resources.

» See More Project Milwaukee: Great Lakes, Troubled Waters Stories

Dean Amhaus is president and CEO of The Water Council, a nonprofit organization that brings together these disparate entities.

"We're not going out there and cleaning up the rivers and the lakes. But hopefully our technology can help the Milwaukee Water Commons or the Riverkeeper to be able to do a better job and a bigger impact," he explains.

Amhaus says that people are looking to Milwaukee for solutions that local companies and universities are developing.

"[Businesses] come here because we have this ecosystem that they can literally plug into." - Dean Amhaus, The Water Council

"They're looking for business-to-business relationships or they come here because we have this ecosystem that they can literally plug into," notes Amhaus. "We like to say that a company could come in on Monday morning at 9, and by 11 they could be plugged into an ecosystem they couldn't get anywhere else. That's one of the things that defines Milwaukee and separates us out across the entire world."

While The Water Council is driven by the private sector, its works cannot be accomplished without partnerships with the government.

"We live in an environment and a society where you have to have government relations and engagement. And that's whether it's from the governor's office to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources or the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation," says Amhaus.

Brenda Coley is the co-executive director of the Milwaukee Water Commons, which takes a community and environmental approach to water issues. She says the most important thing about being a city built on water is simply getting people to water.

"Any time you put someone in front of water, they get it. So, the issue is putting them there. That's the challenge," says Coley. "And with a highly segregated city, there are issues and unwritten boundaries around water. So, we work to provide a pathway for people to get back to water."

» Young People Of Color Lend Their Voices To Water Issues In Milwaukee

Coley sees water as way to mend the wounds segregation has caused, and continues to cause, here in Milwaukee.

"As we introduce more and more people to the gift of water — to the fact that this is their water as well as everyone else's — I think that that will, in some way, heal us around these issues of segregation," she says.

Part of that healing involves access to water, for drinking and for much more. "We're talking about a broader sense of access, an all-around access," Coley explains. "We try to bring the neighborhood to the water. We're working to make these spaces more inclusive and to make everyone feel they belong there."

What Does It Mean For Milwaukee To Be A 'Water Hub?'
Lake Effect's Bonnie North with Brenda Coley, co-executive director of the Milwaukee Water Commons.

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