Wisconsin's Water Play

In a bid to distinguish themselves as the leader of Great Lakes stewardship, Wisconsin officials earlier this week introduced an ambitious agenda to promote sustainable water use and strengthen the state's economic competitiveness.

The report, presented to a special state legislative committee, calls for a state water czar to advance and oversee conservation programs; the installation of plumbing and other water fixtures that promote more effective water use; and adopting water pricing policies that promote conservation among consumers. The report, produced by an advisory group of industrialists, environmentalists, farmers, and utility officials, also called for a program to aggressively reuse and recycle existing supplies. If implemented, the agenda could establish Wisconsin as one of the more progressive state's in the region when it comes to marrying economic and environmental goals.

The report comes amidst growing regional awareness that the globally unique waters of the Great Lakes ecosystem are the region's primary competitive advantage in a knowledge-based economy. Ready access to robust water supplies not only allows state's like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio to attract and expand industry; clean fresh waterways also strengthens the region's competitiveness by enhancing quality of life and, by extension, the ability to retain and attract companies and the talented workers they covet. What's more, cities and companies across the nation have begun reducing costs and saving real dollars just by getting smarter about how water is used to meet daily needs.

The report also comes a little more than a year after the release of Gov. Jim Doyle's Conserve Wisconsin agenda.