Water Summit V- Milwaukee Water Council

I spent yesterday at the Milwaukee Water Council’s fifth Water Summit. The session was focused in three tracks: Urban Agriculture, Urban Water and the relationship between Water and Energy. By my rough estimate, the event drew nearly two hundred individuals from companies in the “water space” (the Council reports that there are some 120 of these firms in the Milwaukee area), research universities, government agencies, and interest/trade groups. The audience was energetic, engaged and enthusiastic. I’m glad that I was able to be there. I can not cover all of what happened here, but the three items below offer a taste of what the Council is up to. I encourage you to explore each of them. To learn more about the Council, you can listen to coverage of this event on Chicago Public Radio’s Front and Center program (focusing on Great Lakes issues) here: http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-20/milwaukee-taps-great-lakes-economic-potential-water-summit-92215# or visit them directly here: http://www.thewatercouncil.com/

The morning keynote speaker, Phil Enquist, a partner at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, gave a version of his talk on a 100 year vision for the Great Lakes. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, a version from last year is available over on You Tube:

Another very interesting idea is the “Water Entrepreneurship Workshop” that helped budding entreprenuer-teams to articulate business cases for water-related innovations. UW Whitewater’s Business School provided templates and experts from XPV Capital, Imagine H20, USEPA and Veolia Water provided assistance, inspiration and advice. The final “pitches” from five teams can be found here: http://www.thewaterworkshop.com/presentations.html I’m not sure where these business ideas will go, but the workshop approach is very intriguing.

Last, but not least, the lunchtime keynote speakers provided some useful insights into the value of water. David Zetland (http://aguanomics.com) and Jamie Workman discussed how a dose of economic thinking can help both water managers and the rest of us better manage our water. David seemed to suggest that a transition from water “rates” to “prices” is an important means to the end of better managed water, and Jamie offered a unique “earn and trade” (http://ecocloud-sv.com/page/water-ownership-and-aquajust) approach to water management. Keep an eye out for both of these fellows! It was a very interesting and engaging session.

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