If you’ll be attending the WaterPro or StormCon conferences, here are some water-related attractions you won’t want to miss.
Milwaukee has always been a city blessed with fresh water. Part of its name even comes from the Native American words for “gathering place by the water.” The city was founded on the banks of Lake Michigan, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, and it grew around the confluence of the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers.
Now Milwaukee is home to the Water Council, a unique body composed of 200 water-related companies and research centers. Not surprisingly, the United Nations has named Milwaukee an international hub for water research and technology.
Although some must-see water-related attractions will unfortunately be closed to the public during WaterPro and StormCon due to maintenance and pandemic restrictions, there are still a number of attractions to check out when you’re about town.
Visit the Global Water Center (GWC) of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) School of Freshwater Sciences, the only school of freshwater sciences in the United States. The Global Water Center is the global headquarters of the Water Council, the Alliance for Water Stewardship’s North American headquarters, and the heart of Milwaukee’s global water technology hub. This water business and research building houses more than 30 water-related businesses, startups, and academic and research organizations. GWC plans to give public tours on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. Advance registration is required, or you can take a virtual tour.
Reflo, a nonprofit focused on sustainable water solutions, has some great urban agriculture projects with large underground cisterns, bioswales, and weather-monitoring systems. Alice’s Garden is a good example. It harvests rainwater and stores it in rain barrels and a large underground cistern. Stormwater no longer flows into the sewer system, where it once contributed to wastewater treatment system overloading that forced untreated discharges into Lake Michigan. Now, the water is used for irrigation and at a vegetable washing station that recycles the washing water yet again. Bioswales at the site also treat stormwater naturally before it enters the watershed.
What visit to Milwaukee could ignore beer? Milwaukee’s enormous water resources made it a city known for its breweries, so why not take a fun tour of Lakefront Brewery, a brewery that also serves food, as well as organic and gluten-free beers. The brewery tour is 45 minutes of “facts, lore, jokes, and of course beer” starting at 5:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. The $11 admission includes two 16-ounce pours. Lakefront Brewery is a B-Corp and runs programs with Milwaukee Riverkeeper.
Milwaukee Brewing Company also has a highly rated and longer tour. The $15 price tag includes a 90-minute tour of the facility as well as a souvenir glass. The brewery is reputedly very generous with beer while you’re waiting for your tour to begin, so arrive early! Book a tour via the website.
Notable Attractions for Next Time
Some other attractions will be unavailable during WaterPro and StormCon but deserve a mention.
Unfortunately it will be closed for maintenance during the conferences, but consider putting a trip to Discovery World science and technology center on your list for your next trip to Milwaukee. It’s a family-friendly museum, featuring hydrology-focused displays, a Great Lakes diorama, and an aquarium.
Cream City Farms is another Reflo project that’s worth a visit after pandemic restrictions are eased.
Fluence wishes you a productive and informative visit to the Milwaukee WaterPro and StormCon conferences and invites you to drop by our booth to say hello and learn about modular equipment for decentralized water and wastewater treatment. We’ll see you in the gathering place by the water!