Water quality is an issue for businesses, and recent issues have prompted a new sense of urgency. In this interview with Dean Amhaus of The Water Council, he shares his thoughts on how community issues with water quality are inspiring businesses to forge their own solutions.
Businesses that rely on water for their industrial processes have always pursued solutions above and beyond the water utility. But the water quality issues in Toledo, Ohio, Flint, Michigan and now Corpus Christi, Texas have created an even greater sense of urgency.
“Our nation’s water utilities have done a remarkable job, but as part of a continuity plan I think there is a growing sense from businesses that if utilities can’t deliver what they need to maintain operations, or if they need extra quality, they have to do it themselves,” said Dean Amhaus, President & CEO of The Water Council.
In an interview, Dean explains to us what that entails, including some new initiatives from The Water Council that will foster innovative new approaches to water quality.
What is The Water Council?
The Water Council was founded in 2009 to align the Milwaukee region’s freshwater research community with water-related industries.
Over the years, The Water Council has helped foster links between global water technology companies, innovative water entrepreneurs, government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGO), research programs, and a worldwide network of water professionals.
They’ve accomplished much in the past seven years from their thriving downtown Global Water Center. And their role in the business community seems destined to increase, as business leaders are now realizing the economic impact of water issues.
Has Water Been Overlooked?
In the past, businesses may have taken water quality for granted. But Amhaus points out that more and more business leaders are beginning to view water problems on the same level they view energy.
“In Toledo, you have an algae breakout, and the city shuts down,” Amhaus said. “It is a tragic situation for all of the citizens, but there is a growing realization that there is a huge economic cost for businesses if they have to cease operation.”
The Water Council is working to increase awareness about water issues, and they’re not alone. Amhaus cites working with JPMorgan Chase to host investor conferences on water as an example of the growing awareness.
Facilitating the information flow will involve different avenues of outreach, however, which includes The Water Council’s new ICE Institute.
ICE Institute: Providing Customized Research Information
ICE stands for Innovation Commercialization Exchange, and in this case, the exchange is research ready for the marketplace.
ICE will act as an information source for businesses seeking research-backed data. “We hear from businesses across the U.S. who are looking for solutions on their own,” Amhaus said. “Our interest is finding R&D and delivering it to these companies.”
For example, he notes there are innovations within 300 federal labs across the country, as well as new research from academia and entrepreneurs. “Businesses want access to this information sooner than later,” he said.
The ICE Institute will facilitate their needs by weeding through the data much like “an executive search firm.”
Providing Access to New Opportunities
The ICE Institute is yet another example of how The Water Council is facilitating connections. If you’re a member of The Water Council, you’ll not only gain access to the information, but you’ll also receive recommendations on how to proceed.
“That has real potential,” Dean said. “It’s something no one else can provide.”
For example, technical advancements with sensors have yielded some amazing new possibilities. In the future a sensor could be attached to a faucet and detect pollutants in the water that could help prevent injuries in catastrophes like Flint.
Businesses are looking for these types of solutions not only for business partnerships or acquisitions, but also to secure the quality of their own water.
Building on Past Successes
The ICE Institute is yet another success story in the making for The Water Council. But they’re no strangers to merging the needs of the business community with the growing water industry.
For example, the Global Water Center sits in the heart of the “Milwaukee Water Technology District,” which is located in the Walker’s Point neighborhood.
The 98,000 square foot building is an entity unto itself, housing over 40 businesses and organizations devoted to water technology. The Water Council is now moving on to its second building, which will have a special emphasis on international businesses.
Another successful initiative is the BREW Accelerator, a worldwide incubator program for entrepreneurial organizations. The BREW Accelerator trains and advances start-ups into the marketplace, and is now in its fourth year.
Become Part of the Movement
Through initiatives like the ICE Institute and BREW Accelerator, The Water Council is working to bring business leaders, researchers and innovators together, creating a dynamic and profitable ecosystem for the industrial water sector.
To become part of this network, reach out to Meghan Jensen, Director of Marketing & Membership, of The Water Council for more information on membership and opportunities.
We’ll do more than give you a quote—we’ll visit your site to analyze your industrial water needs.