The Economist paints present day lakefront conditions in the nation's Midwest: "...cycling to and from work along the shores of Lake Michigan in the summer months, marveling at the brilliant turquoise water in the morning and shades of pink, purple and deep blue in the evening, ever-varying with wind and weather."
John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center, believes the greatest asset of the seven states bordering the Great Lakes is their proximity to freshwater. He believes that in the past, the impact of the Industrial Revolution had a negative impact on the area's freshwater resources. "Now we have to reclaim it to secure our future." he says. And reclaiming it is just what the Global Water Center has set out to do.
"More needs to be done to clean up the lakes and rivers, but attention is now shifting from conservation to the economic uses of abundant water. The Midwest has more than 20% of the world's (and 80% of America's) freshwater supply. It has positioned itself as a center for research and development for water-related technologies. Milwaukee's Water Council, which promotes investment, research and jobs in water technology, wants the region to be a wetter version of Silicon Valley. Its Global Water Center is an incubator for water-based companies. The School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin's Milwaukee branch is one of only three such freshwater schools in the world (the other two are in the Netherlands and in Singapore). Milwaukee calls itself the "World Water Hub". Delegations of visitors from around the world seem to believe it."
Dean Amhaus, head of the Water Council, thinks climate change will in time turn water scarcity into a more pressing concern. Research at the Water Council could provide solutions and further contribute to the area's freshwater revitalization.
The Global Water Center is the only one of its kind in the United States. It is a globally connected epicenter for freshwater research, education, and business development. It has served as a model for innovation and collaboration and is a trailblazer in the water industry.