Dean Amhaus, president and chief executive officer of The Water Council, and David Garman, Ph.D., founding dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences attended the invite-only White House Roundtable on Water Innovation.
The event aimed to ramp up innovation and investments in water technologies.
Amhaus applauded President Barack Obama and his administration for prioritizing water innovation.
“It is clear that water quality and quantity issues are gaining increasing national and international attention,” Amhaus said in a statement. “The White House is now ratcheting up its engagement.”
Tuesday’s meeting was not Amhaus’ first encounter with the White House. In July 2014, he co-led a private sector and university delegation with Mayor Tom Barrett to the White House to talk to national officials about the Water Council’s work and to tout the importance of national attention on water technologies and innovation.
The delegation also brought to light Milwaukee’s leadership and public-private partnership centered on water issues.
Beyond holding the roundtable discussion, the U.S. Department of Interior announced plans to create a new Natural Resource Investment Center to help attract private capital that can support the country’s extensive 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.
The roundtable discussion and new investment center factor into a broader national strategy the White House is rolling out to address water resource challenges, including drought, climate change, increased use of water, 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 Obama’s 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, and others at the forefront of the water industry.