charting a vision for american cities

A Research Conference addressing the challenges facing water and urbanization in the 21st century.

There are multiple interlinked challenges facing water and urbanization in the coming century. Water resource security is threatened by a changing climate with floods, drought and changing water quality, opportunistic pathogens and invasive species and loss of aquatic biodiversity.

Delivery of water to industry, the community and agriculture is compromised by aging and inadequate infrastructure with energy production being closely interlinked. For freshwater, dealing with the trifecta of resource scarcity and excess, aging infrastructure and climate change is estimated to be a $23 trillion challenge globally over the next 15 to 20 years.

Urban areas are at the epicenter of many of these challenges as demographics shift, spurring urban expansion and accelerating demands on existing urban infrastructure. This has focused attention on heightened vulnerabilities of urban freshwater systems and urban populations that are exacerbated by uncertainties in the magnitude, if not the direction, of future change.

This conference will highlight new research that addresses the issues of Emerging Threats, Critical Infrastructures and Evolving Policies surrounding the availability of freshwater.


Kevin L. Shafer

Opening Plenary Speaker
Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

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Clare Lyster

Architect, educator and writer based in Chicago

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Plan Your Visit

Conference Site

Hilton Milwaukee City Center

509 W Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Book Your Room

Open House, 10/18

UWM School of Freshwater Sciences

Great Lakes Research Facility
600 E Greenfield Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53204

Sponsorship Opportunities

Student Sponsor Level $500

Milwaukee River Level $1,000

Lake Michigan Level $2,000

Kevin Shafer became the Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) in 2002. As Executive Director, he is responsible for the overall management, administration, leadership, and direction of MMSD. Under his leadership, MMSD instituted a regional stormwater runoff rule and has been a leader for innovative ways to manage stormwater runoff. His regional leadership was recognized through the District’s receipt of the 2012 U.S. Water Prize, awarded by the U.S. Water Alliance.

Prior to joining the District, Shafer spent 10 years in private industry and six years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Fort Worth, Texas. He is a past president of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies. Currently, Kevin is the Chair of the Water Environment Research Foundation and of the U.S. Water Alliance’s Urban Water Sustainability Leadership Council.

Shafer received a bachelor’s degree in science and civil engineering with a specialty in water resources from the University of Illinois and a master’s in civil engineering from the University of Texas. His professional recognition also includes:

2007 – Kodak’s American Greenways Award
2012 – The University of Wisconsin’s LaFollette School of Public Affairs, Lloyd D.
Gladfelter Award
2013 – The Milwaukee River District’s Daniel H. Burnham Visionary Award
2014 – The Public Policy Forum’s Norman N. Gill Award for Individual Excellence
2015 – NACWA’s Local Public Service Award
2015 – The American Academy of Environmental Engineer’s Edward J. Cleary

Clare Lyster is an architect, educator and writer based in Chicago. Her work focuses on the design of the city from the perspective of contemporary theories in landscape, and infrastructure. She is author of Learning from Logistics: How Networks Change Cities (Birkhäuser, 2016) and co-editor of Third Coast Atlas, A Prelude to a Plan (ACTAR, Fall 2017) with Daniel Ibañez, Charles Waldheim and Mason White. Previously she edited, Envisioning the Bloomingdale: 5 Concepts (Chicago Architecture Club, 2009) and 306090 vol. 09, Regarding Public Space, with Cecilia Benites (PA Press, 2005). Her writing has appeared in a range of venues from Cabinet to Volume and as chapters in edited anthologies on landscape and mobility networks. Research and design, produced by her practice, CLUAA, has been exhibited locally and internationally including the Art Institute of Chicago, University College Dublin, The Lisbon Architecture Triennale (2016) and the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (2017). Clare has been awarded grants from the Arts Council of Ireland, the UIC OVCR Grants for the Arts, Architecture and Design and the Humanities, and the Graham Foundation. She is an Associate Professor at the UIC School of Architecture (Chicago) and she is the Gillmor Lecturer at the University of Calgary in fall 2017.