Environment
12:00 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Water Council on the Move

The Water Council transplanted itself into its new home - a century-old warehouse in Walker’s Point.

Soon, more “tenants” will follow, including UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences.

Dean Amhaus is Water Council president. He offered me a sneak preview, beginning outside the evolving Global Water Center.

Amhaus points to a parcel surrounded by industrial fencing, but not for long.

“That’s the water technology park and they’re starting to build that out. And this is where we want to be able to use it this as a showcase on water management. So the goal being any rain that gets on that lot, does not go in the canal, does not add to the sewage system at all. And use it functionally, but also use it as an education space. The developers really have a couple of different surfaces for roads to see how it holds up.”

Inside, the building’s original brick features remain. Amhaus says water council offices now live on the 5th floor, while the first floor will be home to teams from companies AO Smith and Badger Meter.

“You know you’re going to have a vice president for Badger Meter working down here. I think that’s one of the things is significant about this building, when you’ve seen these other incubators or accelerators, a lot of times what’s happening, they’ll bring a mentor in once a month. Here the mentors are working here every single day. And so the relationship is different. You’ll be able to run into a variety of people here every single day."

Across the way, workers are piecing together the lab the center will share. Amhaus says visitors will be able to peer through glass walls and watch researchers test their creations.

“Now we’re talking about bringing the students from the School of Freshwater Sciences, from Engineering, have them come in, get trained on this equipment. We want the students to be able to use this.”

Water-related businesses and entrepreneurs – including four freshwater technology startups JUST selected for special attention - will fill other nooks and crannies.

Amhaus says one large suite will serve as a lounge. Ordinarily, tenants here might compete, but the center’s goal is to nurture innovation – possibly even collaboration - so members can take products to market and create jobs.

“And again what we want to be able to do is create a place where people just hang out, so televisions up here and people can try that networking.”

Much of the Global Water Center’s square footage is devoted to experimentation, including its rooftop.

“So we’re working with one of the entrepreneurs to create a green roof, and we’re working with MMSD as well. The goal is use it more of a lab to try different varieties of plants.”

We weave our way to Amhaus’ office. Its expansive windows flood the room with light.

“This is the original glass so you can see the waviness. And there are other places throughout the entire building where you can actually see the original glass that’s been in here. Wherever possible we wanted to keep and restore.”

The tour abruptly ends when Amhaus’ cell buzzes. With a floor’s worth of space up for grabs, Amhaus is busy courting potential tenants.

The center will celebrate its formal opening on September 12.