The roundtable aimed to challenge stakeholders to increase innovation and investments in water technologies
The Water Council’s president and CEO, Dean Amhaus, participated in the opening “Technology as a Solution” panel for a roundtable at the White House focused on water innovation, held Dec. 15. David E J Garman PhD, associate vice chancellor water technology research and development and founding dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, also attended the invite-only roundtable.
The White House Roundtable on Water Innovation aimed to challenge stakeholders to increase innovation and investments in water technologies, a topic that has been garnering increased attention and support in Milwaukee for nearly a decade through the leadership of The Water Council and companies such as A. O. Smith Corp. and Badger Meter.
“It is clear that water quality and quantity issues are gaining increasing national and international attention,” Amhaus said. “The White House is now ratcheting up its engagement.”
In July 2014, Amhaus co-led a private sector and university delegation with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to the White House to brief key White House staff on the Water Council’s progress and to emphasize the critical importance that the White House increase its focus on water technologies and innovation. The delegation also highlighted Milwaukee’s leadership and unique public-private partnership focusing on water issues.
In conjunction with the White House Roundtable, the U.S. Department of Interior announced plans for a new Natural Resource Investment Center for the purpose of luring private capital to help meet the country’s massive water infrastructure and conservation needs.
“It will focus on increasing investment in infrastructure, building market-based systems that allow water to be transferred between farms, cities, tribes and nonprofits, and encouraging private investment in habitat conservation,” said Deputy Interior Secretary Mike Connor.
Jim Stern, executive vice president for A. O. Smith Corp. and a board member of The Water Council, applauded the increased prioritization of water innovation by the Administration and said that “by investing in research and development, we can lower the cost and increase the availability of new freshwater supplies, and improve the efficient use of current supplies while saving consumers money.”
The Roundtable on Water Innovation and announcement of the new Natural Resource Investment Center are part of an overall comprehensive strategy within the White House to deal with the growing water resource challenges facing the United States, including drought, climate change, increased use, environmental needs and declining aquifers.
“The 'game changing innovations' that are being developed by Milwaukee’s water technology businesses and university research programs in such areas as novel sensors and assessment and protection of water resources closely align with the future needs of U.S. water management,” Garman said.
Roundtable participants from the Administration included the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House National Economic Council, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, as well as other water industry leaders.