— Water Council President and CEO Dean Amhaus says technological innovation is needed to address national and global water scarcity.
Speaking yesterday to members of the Milwaukee Rotary Club, Amhaus highlighted a number of lakes and other freshwater reservoirs around the world that have shrunk dramatically in recent decades.
“In June 2020, the governor of Utah put out a message to his citizens in Utah and said, ‘we need to pray for rain,’” he said. “A year ago, farmers in Arizona were hoping that it might rain. We have to do much, much more than hope and prayer.”
He noted Wisconsin is “very, very fortunate” to be located so near the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes collectively hold more than 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater, according to the EPA.
But Amhaus argued “we have to not take this for granted,” explaining that two freshwater aquifers in the western part of the United States are “starting to dry up.” That’s of particular concern as about 20 percent of the world’s grain crop, 40 percent of U.S. beef production and 40 percent of vegetable, nuts and fruits consumed in the United States come from these areas.
“Not everything is all bleak; there are solutions that are out there,” he said. “And that really comes back to what’s going on here in Milwaukee.”
He touted a number of water technology companies located in Milwaukee, highlighting the Water Council’s BREW Accelerator for startup businesses in this sector.
Amhaus also discussed a method for rapidly cleaning wastewater being piloted in South Korea, as well as efforts to improve desalination technology. By using the energy from ocean waves to power the process, he said this system could change saltwater to freshwater without using the “huge amount of energy” that’s currently needed.
“That is what the technology advancements that are going on around the world, that have that potential, that give us a sense of hope,” he said. “While there are challenges that are out there, there are multiple technologies that are coming up — developments and solutions — that can really be novel.”
— Advocates for the state’s tech industry say the recently signed $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act could benefit Wisconsin through funding for regional “tech hubs.”
According to an overview from the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, the law includes $10 billion over five years for 20 regional hubs focused on job creation, innovation and advancing technology. The chamber has hosted several delegations of Madison-area business leaders to Washington, D.C., in support of this proposal.
“The regional technology hubs program represents an extraordinary, bipartisan effort to maximize Greater Madison’s — and the nation’s — economic potential,” Chamber President Zach Brandon said in a statement.
In a recent column, Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still notes the bill includes spending in a number of key technology fields: advanced energy, industrial efficiency, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced manufacturing, cybersecurity, biotechnology and others.
“Regional technology ‘hub’ proposals are already being written in Wisconsin, with topic areas that touch on food, water, energy resiliency, manufacturing and generally making better use of resources,” Still wrote in the Inside Wisconsin column. “In short, the topic areas envisioned by the CHIPS and Science Act are a pretty good match with Wisconsin’s traditional economic sectors.”
He also notes the bill contains about $54 billion in subsidies and tax credits for producers of computer chips that expand or establish new U.S. operations while not making any advanced tech investments in competing countries such as China for 10 years.
“Major chip makers such as Intel, GlobalFoundries, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Samsung have signaled they may apply,” Still wrote. “If so, Wisconsin could again find itself on a short list for landing a chipmaking facility.”
— The DNR is maintaining an incident in which oil was released near the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline in the Ashland Area was an oil spill after the company disputed the term.
In a statement to WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com, Enbridge said the Department of Natural Resources press release headline was “incorrect” as “only a trace amount of product was found during scheduled system maintenance” on the line.
“Reports indicating an active oil spill are wrong … Enbridge crews working Wednesday morning at a valve site in the Town of Gingles in Ashland County detected a small amount of product in the soil,” the company said in the statement. “Response crews were dispatched immediately to inspect the area, finding a trace amount of product, and as a precaution Line 5 was shut down.”
In response to the company’s statement, the DNR said the incident constitutes an oil spill.
“As this was an unintentional release of material it is referred to as a spill, whether active or historical,” a spokesperson said in an email. “The use of the word spill is a plain language way of communicating a substance has or was discharged.”
According to the DNR, Enbridge told the agency the contamination was from a “historical discharge” rather than an ongoing release. DNR staff have since visited the site and haven’t observed any petroleum odors or soil staining. The company is required to submit documentation to the DNR about how the contamination is being addressed.
In a statement yesterday, Enbridge said crews “continued to investigate the origin of impacted soils” over the weekend and removed the contaminated soils.
“They continue to find no indication of an active release from the pipe or fittings. The impacted soils will go to an approved disposal facility after testing. Clean fill will be used to replace the soils removed.”
— The State Building Commission has approved $306 million for new projects in 13 counties, including a new cancer research facility being built by the Medical College of Wisconsin.
According to a release from Gov. Tony Evers, the commission met yesterday at the Wisconsin State Fair to approve the projects. They are expected to create $553 million in economic activity and approximately 3,600 jobs.
Along with the grant to the MCW, the commission approved construction of the Science and Technology Innovation Center at UW-River Falls, renovations to HVAC systems at UW-La Crosse’s Graff Main Hall, various maintenance and repair projects at state agencies, and other projects.
See more approved projects in the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/gov-evers-announces-state-building-commission-approves-306-million-projects-across-wisconsin/
— Carnivore Meat Company plans to create 150 more jobs in the Green Bay area after recently breaking ground on a new corporate headquarters and manufacturing facility.
The pet food manufacturer held a groundbreaking earlier this week on the Green Bay site, which will include a 27,000-square-foot office space. According to a release, the manufacturing site’s new freeze-dryers along with previously announced investments will result in a “nearly six-fold increase in production capacity” from 2021 levels once the facility is complete.
The business, founded in 2012, currently employs around 200 people at four locations in the Green Bay area.
See more on the new facilities in the release, including photos from the groundbreaking:
— ThedaCare says a partnership with California-based Qventus will improve care delivery through automation.
The Neenah-based health system yesterday announced it has invested $3 million in Qventus The platform uses artificial intelligence and other technology to automate aspects of inpatient and emergency department coordination as well as scheduling.
Mark Thompson, chief financial officer and chief operating officer for ThedaCare, says this platform “can help relieve some of the prime operational and financial pressures facing hospitals and health systems.”
According to a release from ThedaCare, patients in northeast and central Wisconsin will see “shorter lead times for surgeries, more timely discharges and improved transparency” through the automation effort. Meanwhile, care providers will spend less time on tasks such as phone calls, the health system says.
Qventus previously announced the close of the $50 million investing round in which ThedaCare participated along with various venture capital firms.
Find more details in the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/thedacare-invests-in-qventus-to-enhance-patient-experience-and-outcomes/
— The state Office of Children’s Mental Health is calling on policymakers to support greater access to school-based mental health services.
The office, which is linked to the state Department of Health Services, notes many students don’t receive any mental health treatment.
According to a fact sheet, the ratio of mental health professionals to students in the state is “far below” recommended standards. It shows the number of students per school counselor is about twice the recommended level, while the ratio of students to school social workers is much worse at seven to one.
To help address this gap, the office is calling for: “increased, stable funding” for comprehensive mental health services in schools; funding for recruitment and retention of mental health professionals in schools and peer support services; improved access and coverage for telehealth services; mandatory mental health literacy and suicide prevention education as well as training for school staff.
<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.</i>
Sign up here: http://forms.gle/o8FtqTLviGJPja8C9
# Feds reviewing sports wagering pact with Chippewa band, WI
# Clean energy advocates say federal funds could be catalyst Wisconsin needs to move toward renewables
# Charter Spectrum pushes large rural broadband expansion in Wisconsin
– Wisconsin crops still slightly stressed from dry conditions
– Madison School Board considers pay increase for some hourly staff
– With the school year looming, districts struggle to fill open positions
– ‘I didn’t really learn anything’: COVID grads face college
– DNR report shows most of Wisconsin’s drinking water is good
# FOOD AND BEVERAGE
– Mirch Masala, the Indian-Nepali restaurant on State Street in Madison, reopening Friday
# HEALTH CARE
– Wisconsin Building Commission OKs $190M for Regional Medical Center projects
– 24-year-old iron foundry worker dies after workplace accident last Friday in De Pere
# REAL ESTATE
– Up to 38 commercial condos for small businesses proposed in Cedarburg
– Spanish billionaire buys FedEx property in Menomonee Falls for $35 million
– One of these 3 designers could transform Madison’s lakefront
– Vacant building near Washington Park to be converted into events venue
– Revitalize Milwaukee to rehabilitate 30 homes in Lindsay Heights
– Duluth Trading hires retail tech veteran to help lead digital-first expansion
– Green Bay Packers award $250,000 grant to Milwaukee Public Schools foundation
– Madison and Milwaukee among top 20 best Midwest cities for startups
– Big individual GOP donors are RNC host committee’s first targets
– New MCTS fare system to fully launch in mid-2023 when BRT will debut
– Mitchell International paves CLEAR path for travelers
# PRESS RELEASES
<i>See these and other press releases: