Water professionals gather for first annual demo day at new campus in Gwinnett County
Water professionals from across the country came together on Earth Day to celebrate the grand opening of The Water Tower, a water industry innovation center in Gwinnett County, Georgia. The $33.7 million campus is a hub for water utilities, researchers, companies, and ground-breaking advancements to solve critical water and environmental challenges.
Born out of the pioneer spirit of Gwinnett County leadership, The Water Tower initiative launched in 2019 with the creation of two nonprofit organizations, The Water Tower at Gwinnett and The Water Tower Institute. Through the campus, educational programs, and a broad network of partners and collaborators, The Water Tower aims to provide real-world solutions for water utilities and help the public gain a better understanding of the resources and professionals needed to support clean water in our communities.
“We are thrilled to see this vision become a reality,” said Melissa Meeker, CEO of The Water Tower. “With the opening of this campus, water utilities across Georgia and beyond have access to the latest solutions and workforce training to advance their essential services.”
A VIP lunch program featured remarks from The Water Tower partners and special guests, including Dr. Andrew Sawyers, Director of the Office of Wastewater Management at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux, United States Representative for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, and Cindy Wallis-Lage, Executive Director, Sustainability and Resilience at Black & Veatch.
“I’m proud to join in support for the Water Tower and their effort to build a center of excellence around clean water technology in our community,” said Congresswoman Bourdeaux. “This funding will help provide specialized lab equipment and support The Water Tower’s work of innovation around water technology and developing a water workforce for the 21st Century. The Water Tower’s research will also be critical to ensuring that the Atlanta region has continued access to clean water—over the long term—to support our families and growing economy.”
The day-long celebration also kicked off a first annual Demo Day featuring more than 350 attendees and 40 exhibitors. Utility providers and area leaders watched live demonstrations and learned about innovative solutions to help modernize water utility processes and operations. Visitors toured the state-of-the-art campus featuring multiple laboratories, a field training center and water treatment demonstration areas.
Workforce development is a significant focus of The Water Tower’s mission. It is estimated that some water utilities will lose up to 50 percent of their operations staff in the next 15 years. To address this need, The Water Tower is launching a “Water Workforce for Resilient Communities” program to train existing and attract new water and wastewater operators.
In addition to R&D and technology innovation, another area of focus is STEAM education and outreach with the goal of encouraging students of all ages to explore learning opportunities and careers in Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math. The Water Tower is planning its first Water Innovation and Leadership Summit in September to bring together Georgia high school students for learning about careers in the water sector.
For more information on The Water Tower, visit www.h2otower.org.