Milwaukee has no shortage of water – and there’s a new proposal to give free H2O to prospective industries for providing jobs, the same way other cities and state provide tax breaks. The idea was discussed Monday at a conference at Marquette University on the economics of water. Mayor Tom Barrett said water is Milwaukee’s competitive advantage. The city’s Water Works only runs at a third of its capacity. And with Lake Michigan at its doorstep, it would cost relatively little for Milwaukee to serve up water to new industrial customers. Current industries get a bargain for it. According to the state Public Service Commission, Milwaukee’s high volume industrial users pay $41,000 every 3 months for water. But in Atlanta, where water’s in short supply, those same industries pay at quarter million dollars on the same quarterly bills. Richard Meeusen, the CEO of Milwaukee’s Badger Meter, says Atlanta’s taps will run dry in 3 years from all the industrial growth there. And he says Milwaukee should run full page ads in the Atlanta papers to ask companies, “Worried About Water?” The Milwaukee Water Council talked with state officials a couple weeks ago about the possibility of setting up special water districts for economic development. Barrett says the concept may become a reality within a year.
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