The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa P. Jackson, visited UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences during a visit to Milwaukee yesterday to meet with local leaders and scientists involved in water innovation and conservation efforts.
Jackson also joined UWM Chancellor Carlos E. Santiago, Gov. Jim Doyle, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and Mayor Tom Barrett and at a press conference at Discovery World tosign a “memorandum of understanding” between the EPA and UWM, outlining collaborative efforts on innovative water technology development.
The EPA already funds a variety of ecological research at UWM, but this document will focus on collaborative work in freshwater engineering for a three- to five-year period.
The document stipulates that the two organizations will communicate on potential areas of investigation, including:
- development of innovative water-treatment technologies
- new contaminant-sensing technologies
- technologies for detection of ecosystem impacts and health
- development of novel materials for water filtration and purification
The document also states that “EPA and UWM intend to work cooperatively in the areas of bringing innovative sustainable technologies to market. This joint effort between the EPA and UWM has potential to spawn significant technology development and employment opportunities.”
Jackson’s visit included a tour of UWM’s Great Lakes WATER Institute, the research arm of the university’s new School of Freshwater Sciences, where she met with scientists Rick Goetz, Rebecca Klaper and Ava Udvadia.
She then attended a roundtable discussion of the state of water technologies with Milwaukee business and community leaders.
UWM’s WATER Institute, the largest academic freshwater research facility on the Great Lakes, has been supplying the EPA and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with critical data on the health of Lake Michigan for nearly 40 years.
UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences is the only graduate school in the nation dedicated solely to the study of freshwater. The first class has been accepted for the fall 2010 semester.
The EPA is interested in engaging its partners to help find new strategies for improving water quality, Jackson told a news conference at Discovery World. Especially important, she said, is the development of “green infrastructure,” new methods that will mitigate urban stormwater pollution in waterways and provide a cost-effective solution to water pollution from overflows of combined storm and sanitary sewers.
The event ended with the sounding of the horn from UWM’s research vessel Neeskay as it navigated the harbor just outside Discovery World.