2023 Report - Water Council Annual Report


Annual Report

Letter from the Chairman

2023 was an amazing year for The Water Council! Our big news, of course, was our successful application for a $1 million Development Award from the National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engines program. This award will help us, together with our partners, build an Engine focused on water and energy resiliency and sustainability for manufacturers and utilities. It is a game changer for The Water Council with the potential for an even bigger impact on our region of eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

But that’s not all we achieved this year. Our international connections continue to grow, as evidenced by our participation in UN Water Week, our hosting of an international business development tour with representatives from nine countries, our continued collaboration with the U.S. Water Partnership and Phuket, Thailand, and more. In September, we hosted the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Roadshow to help water technology entrepreneurs learn more about expanding into markets through the ADB, World Bank, U.S. Trade & Development Agency and more.

We accomplished all that while continuing our renowned innovation programming. Our BREW 2.0 Post-Accelerator held its first in-person week of programming in Milwaukee, including a Demo Day and our first-ever curated investor event. This year’s international cohort of ten water technology startups was particularly strong, and it’s been inspiring to see how they support each other. We also held two Tech Challenges, with particularly strong results for our fall challenge.

In the area of water stewardship, we grew our WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified program in its second year to 15 companies and organizations, including four that have been WAVE verified. We established an exciting partnership with fellow Milwaukee organization Rockwell Automation and continued our work with the American Chemistry Council and Suppliers Partnership for the Environment.

As we continue to grow in our mission to solve global water challenges through innovation and water stewardship, we are grateful for the support of our members, partners, sponsors, board directors and staff. In my final year as board chairman, I am proud to see all The Water Council has accomplished in the last few years and to hand the reins to our new chair in 2024, Scott Beightol of Michael Best.


Jim Stern

Jim Stern

Executive Vice President, A. O. Smith Corporation
Chairman, The Water Council

NSF Resiliency Engine

In a thrilling development, the National Science Foundation (NSF) in May awarded The Water Council and our partners $1 million to develop a regional Engine focused on water and energy resiliency and sustainability for manufacturers and utilities. This development grant was part of the first round of awards for NSF’s new Regional Innovation Engines program, meant to:

  • Advance critical technologies.
  • Address pressing national and societal challenges.
  • Cultivate partnerships across industry, academia, government, nonprofits, civil society and communities of practice.
  • Promote and stimulate economic growth and job creation.
  • Spur regional innovation and talent.

The program is designed around the concept of use-inspired research, meaning Engines must uncover problems faced by their end users (in our case, manufacturers and water, wastewater and energy utilities) and find, develop and scale solutions. We selected a region concentrated around our hometown of Milwaukee that includes eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, home to leading energy and water technology companies, renowned research universities and a strong manufacturing sector. The Engine will align these resources to focus on water and energy resiliency and sustainability while ensuring the area offers a strong innovation pipeline and diverse, trained workforce to identify needs and quickly move solutions from the laboratory to the factory floor.

Over the two years of the Development Award, The Water Council and our partners will prepare to apply for the next stage in the program, a Launch Award of up to $160 million over 10 years. This could be a true game-changer for our region. We are developing the Engine by:

  • Holding stakeholder focus groups and visioning sessions to broaden and strengthen stakeholder engagement.
  • Creating a roadmap of existing and needed programs for supporting solutions at every stage, from research to commercialization.
  • Identifying university and industry research aligned with water and energy solutions.
  • Expanding pathways within the investor community to support solutions.
  • Developing a comprehensive and inclusive workforce strategy.
  • Creating a talent development action plan.

Since receiving the award, we have formed focus groups in areas such as university research, manufacturing, investment, workforce development, and diversity, equity and inclusion to make sure we set up the Engine for success. We are conducting customer discovery sessions to learn more about the water and energy challenges faced by manufacturers and utilities so we can narrow our focus and select relevant research topics. Finally, we are making sure we have the correct mix of partners to ensure the Engine is effective and self-sustaining after its launch.

This is an exciting development not just for The Water Council, but also the region and our water technology members, many of whom will be able to share, develop and scale their solutions through this Engine.

NSF Resiliency Engine Lead Partners


The Water Council supports global innovation in the water technology sector through matchmaking, member services, networking and our signature innovation programs: BREW 2.0 Post Accelerator, Tech Challenge and Pilot Program.

Brew 2.0

This year, we hosted in-person programming for our BREW 2.0 Post-Accelerator for the first time since we introduced the reimagined program in 2021. This hybrid program includes virtual training and a week of in-person programming and events in Milwaukee, culminating in a Demo Day when participants pitch their innovations to a live and virtual worldwide audience. In 2023 we added a curated investor event in partnership with NVNG Investment Advisors and hosted by Baird.

Our 2023 cohort included strong global representation, with companies from the U.S., France, Norway, Spain and Slovakia. The companies all spoke highly of the program and their time in Milwaukee, and we enjoyed seeing how tight knit the cohort became this year.

We were pleased to welcome an additional sponsor this year, Xylem, joining existing sponsors Beckhoff Automation and Thales Water Advisors. In addition to financial support, these sponsors provide valuable expertise and connections to our BREW companies.



Energy-neutral wastewater treatment-as-a-service for industrial, agricultural & residential applications


Innovative solutions for wastewater biological treatment

Enspired Solutions

EPA-award-winning technology to destroy toxic PFAS molecules in water

Genesis Systems

Novel high-efficiency, low-cost, renewable utility scale water supplies developed from air


Software-as-a-service for water & wastewater management

In-Pipe Robot

Robotic pipeline inspection solutions with advanced software


Internet-of-things sensor & software for measuring water level, flow, temperature & other water parameters

Nucleic Sensing Systems

Innovative equipment & solutions that provide insight into critical biological activity

Redberry SAAS

Simple, automated & precise microbiological water quality monitoring solutions


Software solution to streamline sample collection & lab analysis workflows


Tech Challenge

Our fall Tech Challenge yielded a record-setting crop of solutions from eight countries on the topics of PFAS detection, remediation and mitigation and non-destructive structural analysis of pressurized pipes. Our sponsors – A. O. Smith Corporation, Badger Meter and Watts Water Technologies – selected the following winners:

  • Aquagga (Washington, USA) was selected for its PFAS destruction technology.
  • Searen (Ohio, USA), was selected for its PFAS extraction/concentration technology.
  • Pipesonic (based in Canada with a U.S. headquarters in Milwaukee, Wis.) was selected for its technology that conducts non-invasive assessments of watermains.

Two of the winners, Aquagga and Pipesonic, have previously participated in our BREW programming.

Concurrent with the fall Tech Challenge, we also conducted a request for information (RFI) on behalf of the Green Lake Association seeking solutions for phosphorus overloading, with a strong result of more than 20 responses.  The RFI not only provided a valuable pipeline of solutions for Green Lake Association to consider, but it offered them visibility and network connections to advance their interests.


Pilot Program

One technology was selected by our pilot funding partner, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), for demonstration in 2023.  Finnish company Aquapriori is piloting its inflow and infiltration technology with the district.  Aquapriori was introduced to MMSD through an earlier solicitation in partnership with The Water Alliance (Netherlands) and the EU Techbridge program.


Water Stewardship

Our groundbreaking WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified program showed strong growth in its second year. WAVE provides a step-by-step process to help organizations understand and assess water use, impact and risk across the enterprise. Key outcomes of the WAVE process include developing a water stewardship policy or commitment statement as well as prioritizing sites and mitigating actions with the highest water impact. Seven organizations joined WAVE this year, bringing to 14 the number of companies that are going through the WAVE process or have achieved independent verification. Sloan recently became the fourth organization WAVE verified.

In March, we announced a new partnership with Rockwell Automation. Together we are promoting water stewardship services, including WAVE, and technological solutions. Rockwell and The Water Council have already jointly spoken at several events about the importance of water stewardship. Rockwell joins KPMG and Riverwater Partners as strategic partners with WAVE.

In May, our work on WAVE was validated when Fast Company named it as honorable mention in the water category as part of its World-Changing Ideas Awards.

Participating Companies

Verified Companies

Additional Stewardship Work

We continued to evangelize this year about the need for corporate water stewardship. We deepened our work with the American Chemistry Council and Suppliers Partnership for the Environment (SP), including creation of a SP Water Stewardship Strategy Framework for the automotive value chain in fall.

In March, we helped organize the first meeting of Great Lakes WISE (Water Innovation & Stewardship Exchange) at the Sloan Showroom in Chicago. This forum, led by the Council of the Great Lakes Region, allows businesses and other stakeholders to discuss water issues, encourage water stewardship and promote this valuable resource in our collective backyard. The roundtable included a broad array of business interests, with representatives from A. O. Smith Corporation, Sloan, Meijer, Corteva Agriscience, Rockwell Automation, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Fresh Coast Climate Solutions, Watts Water Technologies, BlueTriton Brands, The Joyce Foundation, Culligan International, Reyes Coca-Cola and KPMG. We hosted a second in-person meeting at the Global Water Center in September.

We also continued to spread the word about the importance of corporate water stewardship through articles, webinars and events, including UN Water Week in March 2023. (See the Collaboration section for more about UN Water Week.)

Collaboration & International Work

The Water Council collaborates with members, partner organizations, nonprofits and governmental entities in the U.S. and around the world to further our innovation and stewardship missions and promote economic development and foreign direct investment in the water technology industry.

United Nations Water Conference

In March 2023, our president and CEO, Dean Amhaus, and vice president of water stewardship, Matt Howard, attended the first United Nations Water Conference to be held in 40 years. There, we participated in several roundtables and events, including the release of the Water Alliance’s Blueprint for a Circular Water Smart Society, of which we were a signatory.

We also submitted a commitment to the UN’s Water Action Agenda. We believe our unique focus on connecting water stewardship and water technology will help industrial water users from across the world both improve their material water risks and make an impact on several sustainable development goals, particularly SDG 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Water Smart Engagement

In June, Dean and our vice president of economic development and innovation, Karen Frost, traveled to Thailand to discuss drinking water and wastewater issues with our partner city, Phuket, as part of the U.S. Water Partnership’s Water Smart Engagement program. Then they attended Singapore International Water Week, where they spoke about our Phuket partnership, led a Utilities CEO Roundtable and toured Singapore’s Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant. A Phuket delegation traveled to Milwaukee in September for training at Milwaukee Water Works.

Water Leaders Summit

The fall saw a busy stretch of events, many of them international in nature. In September we held our annual Water Leaders Summit at the Harley-Davidson Museum, addressing the timely theme of resiliency. Topics included Advancing Innovation, Resiliency Solutions in Practice, and Stewardship and Investment as Keys to Water Resiliency, along with a sequel to our 2022 Water in the West panel. Our Water Warrior of the Year Award was given to Slater Infrastructure Group, represented by Andrew Hollis.

The following day, we co-hosted the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Roadshow with the U.S. Commercial Service-Wisconsin. Representatives from the ADB, World Bank, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, USAID and U.S. International Development Finance Corporation helped water technology companies learn how they can get involved in infrastructure projects in developing nations.

Photos by Kevin McIntosh

WEFTEC & Beyond

In October, we attended WEFTEC in Chicago. Many attendees felt 2023 was a “return to form” for the annual event, with good attendance and a high degree of optimism. The Water Council spoke about Navigating Resiliency in the ESG Landscape with Rockwell Automation, participated in a Water Cluster Leaders Forum, led a panel on PFAS Innovation and spoke about cross-cluster cooperation for Collaboration Across the Pond.

Immediately following WEFTEC, we brought a bus full of overseas water tech professionals to Milwaukee for a business development event. More than 40 representatives of water technology companies and water organizations from Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Brazil and Canada joined us to learn more about the U.S. market, the work of The Water Council and Milwaukee’s water tech cluster.

Included in the group were representatives of ECT of France, doing business in the U.S. as CORROFIX, and Pipesonic of Canada. That week, we announced that both companies had recently opened their first U.S. offices at the Global Water Center.

Water Alliance Video Collaboration

This year, we were invited by the Netherlands’ Water Alliance to participate in a film project about how water technology companies can enter the U.S. market. The resulting video features not just The Water Council but also one of our members and BREW participants, Aquacycl. We also were heavily featured in the fall issue of the Water Alliance’s magazine, Waterproof. Around this time, Dean was featured on the cover of another water publication, H2O Global News, based in the U.K.

Our growing international reach reflects the overall growth of our world water hub and helps us serve our members and further our mission to solve global water challenges through water innovation and stewardship.


The Water Council offers its members access to an unparalleled network of water industry thought leaders, policymakers and innovators aligned through one of the most influential freshwater technology hubs in the world. We are committed to convening, connecting and showcasing our members.

This year our membership grew to 154 companies and organizations, including 21 overseas members. Included are our 31 Water Champions, companies of any industry that support our mission to solve global water challenges through innovation and stewardship that do not actually manufacture a water technology.

This year, we held in-person member meetings at InSinkErator in spring and Bradley Corporation, now part of Watts Water Technologies, in fall. We also continued our member lunch series, a small gathering of members networking over lunch, to learn more about each other and The Water Council. We learn a lot about our members at these lunches and what they’re looking for in membership.

Our valued members are the heart of The Water Council and our activities.

Thank you for your support.

A. O. Smith Corporation

Aclarus Ozone

Anguil Environmental Systems, Inc.


Aqua Membranes, Inc.


Aquagga, Inc.

Aquamonitrix Limited


Aquarius Systems

Atmus Filtration Technologies Inc.*

Badger Meter, Inc.

Baker Manufacturing Company, LLC


Beckhoff Automation, LLC

Black & Veatch*

BloomOptix, LLC

Blue Triton Brands*

Bradley Corporation

Business Development Pros LLC*

Cadens LLC

CDM Smith Inc*

ChloBis Water, Inc.

Cimbria Capital*


City of Milwaukee

Clearwater Industries, Inc.

Council of the Great Lakes Region

Covanta Environmental Solutions, LLC*

Culligan International Company

Digital Water Solutions Inc

Discovery World Ltd.

DMR International Inc

Donohue & Associates, Inc.*

Ecolab Inc.*

ECT / Corrofix

EMCO Chemical Distributors, Inc.*

Energy Tech Innovations LLC

Enspired Solutions Inc.


Evoqua Water Technologies LLC



Fixed Earth Innovations Ltd.

Fresh Coast Climate Solutions*

Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin

Fund for Lake Michigan

Generac Power Systems, Inc.*

Genesis Systems LLC

Global Water Works

Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.*

GOSPACE Tech s. r. o.

Greater Milwaukee Committee

Green Lake Association

Green Sports Alliance


GRUNDFOS Pumps Corporation

Harbor District Inc.

Hydraloop Systems BV

InfoTiles AS

In-Pipe Robot


Ixom Watercare Inc.


Liquidcool Solutions, Inc.

Lumo, Inc.

Marlo Incorporated

Marquette University

Matthews Strategic Services LLC

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce

Michael Best & Friedrich LLP*


Milwaukee 7

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Milwaukee Riverkeeper Inc.

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition

Milwaukee Water Works

Molson Coors Beverage Company

Mulcahy Shaw Water*

Nanoaffix Science LLC

Nasco Sampling/Whirl-Pak


Nucleic Sensing Systems LLC


Operational Technical Services LLC

ORIN Technologies LLC

P4 Infrastructure

Pani Clean, Inc.

Phigenics LLC



Plazer LLC

PolyGone Systems

Potawatomi Business Development Corp*

Power Lube Industrial

Praxedo Corporation

Primo Water Corporation*

Pulsed Burst Systems LLC

Qualified Water Systems LLC


Rapid Radicals

Redberry SAS

Regulosity LLC*

Riverwater Partners, LLC*

Robert W. Baird & Company*

Rockwell Automation

Roving Blue, Inc.

Ruekert & Mielke Inc.*

Sage Water LLC

Sampleserve Inc.

Samuel, Son & Co.*

SCS Global Services Inc*

SENTRY: Water Monitoring & Control Inc

SIGMA DAF Clarifiers

Slater Infrastructure Group

Sloan Valve Company

Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission


The Nature Conservancy

The Probst Group

The Wasmer Company, LLC

Tomorrow Water

Total Water Treatment Systems

Toyota Motor North America, Inc.*

Tri-Lakes Water Management District

True Elements LLC

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

UWM Innovation Accelerator Prototyping Center

UWM Research Foundation

Vandewalle & Associates Inc.*

Varuna iOT


Vienna Water Monitoring Solutions VWMS GmbH

VISIT Milwaukee

Water Environment Federation

Water Resources Monitoring Group LLC

Water Warriors, Inc.

Waterly, LLC

Watertronics LLC

WaterWeb Tools

Watts Water Technologies, Inc.

Waukesha Water Utility

WEC Energy Group, Inc.

Wellntel Inc.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association

Wisconsin Section of AWWA

Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council

Wisconsin Technology Council

Xylem Inc.

ZwitterCo, Inc

*Water Champions

Our Board

Jim Stern, Chair
Executive Vice President
A. O. Smith Corporation

Ken Bockhorst, Vice Chair
Chairman, President & CEO
Badger Meter

Scott C. Beightol, Treasurer
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

Kirk Allen
President & CEO
Sloane Valve Company

Steve Booth
President & CEO
Robert W. Baird & Co., Inc.

Joel Brennan
President, Greater Milwaukee Committee.

Scott Clawson
President & CEO
Culligan International


Lafayette Crump
Commissioner of City Development
City of Milwaukee

Stephen B. Guy
Managing Director
Baird Global Investment Banking

Missy Hughes
Secretary & CEO
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Elizabeth Koehler
Wisconsin State Director
The Nature Conservancy

Michael Lovell
Marquette University

Kim Marotta
Global Vice President
Environmental Sustainability
Beam Suntory

John Matthews
Matthews Strategic Services, LLC

Mark Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Robert J. Pagano Jr.

President & CEO
Watts Water Technologies

Marc Roehl
Executive Vice President
Ixom Watercare

Kevin Shafer
Executive Director
Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Emilio Tenuta
Senior Vice President & Chief Sustainability Officer

Paul Jones
Board Emeritus
A. O. Smith Corporation

Rich Meeusen
Board Emeritus
Badger Meter, Inc.


Dean Amhaus
President & CEO

Beverley Ferrara
European Representative

Karen Frost
Vice President, Economic Development & Innovation

Matt Howard
Vice President, Water Stewardship

Amy Jensen

Dr. Barry Liner
Technical Advisor

Laura Mullen
Member Engagement Manager

Stacy Vogel Davis
Communications Director

Isabella Montemurro
Communications Intern

Jane Schaub
Water Stewardship Intern