International Water Association to open Milwaukee office

Its North American office will be at Global Water Center

Global Water Center Building (1)
The Global Water Center at 247 W Freshwater Way.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:20 pm

The International Water Association will establish its North American office at the Global Water Center in Milwaukee, Mayor Tom Barrett announced today in conjunction with the White House Water Summit.

Global Water Center Building (1)
The Global Water Center

The IWA is headquartered in London and has global operations based in The Hague. It has over 9,000 members in 130 countries. It has other regional offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Nairobi, Bucharest, Singapore and Dakar.

“The IWA connects science, policy and practice, and by joining with Milwaukee’s Global Water Center we aim to facilitate a wider cooperation between the United States and the international water community,” said Dr. Ger Bergkamp, IWA executive director.

The IWA board of directors met in Milwaukee in June 2014 and Barrett said it became clear afterwards “that it makes sense to unite the world’s most important professional water association with the world’s leading water technology cluster.”

“I think it’s a real shot in the arm for Milwaukee,” Barrett said. He acknowledged there likely wouldn’t be a large number of jobs to come with the office, at least initially, but said there would be national and international implications as more people focus on water issues.

“What it does is it sets down the marker,” he said.

Meghan Jensen, The Water Council’s director of marketing and membership, said the IWA office will be in the Global Water Center. While the center is largely full, Jensen said there will be room for IWA offices but the exact size of the space has not been determined.

She said the organization has been working with the IWA over the last year and a half and is “delighted that they’ve selected Milwaukee,” adding the partnership would offer “an incredibly strong platform to help our businesses grow their networks with key researchers, businesses and talent around the world.”

“It is equally exciting to have the city of Milwaukee’s continued commitment to establishing the world’s most water centric city, and embrace water and our region’s water industry as a major driver in shaping the future of Milwaukee,” said Rich Meeusen, co-chair of The Water Council and chairman, president and chief executive officer of Brown Deer-based Badger Meter.

New partnership

Also announced today, the city of Milwaukee is also entering into a formal partnership with The Water Council, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University to increase the number of water-related startups, increase water-focused education and improve business water standards.

The partnership between the city, The Water Council, UWM and Marquette was included in the official White House fact sheet produced in conjunction with the Water Summit. It included commitments for startups, education and water standards.

The Water Council’s BREW (Business. Research. Entrepreneurship. In Wisconsin) committed to helping 75 new water-technology startups launch their ideas over the next five years through mentorship and an intensive six-month, strategic training program. The Water Council also is expanding its BREW Corporate program, adding accelerator programs with A.O. Smith and Rexnord after first working with Veolia.

The Alliance for Water Stewardship – North America, a program of The Water Council, has committed to working with 200 large industrial and agricultural water-using sites to implement the AWS Standard. The standard is similar to LEED certification, but focuses on water and on understanding the business’ impact on the larger watershed in an area. The city of Milwaukee is committing to getting 10 percent of businesses in the Milwaukee region to adopt the standard.

The city of Milwaukee’s commitment calls for training up to 400 students annually with water-focused education qualifications through area universities.


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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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