Free Water District
Utilizing “Free Water” as a catalyst, UrbanLab created a visioning plan for attracting water-intensive industries to relocate from areas such as the Sun Belt – where water is scarce – to the water endowed Great Lakes region. Today, water intensive businesses representing millions of jobs are scrambling to secure long-term water resources as global supplies become more and more contested. Metropolitan Chicago – and other Great Lakes cities – can have a robust economy long into the 21st century because of freshwater assets if they are re-conceptualized and strategically invested in. As urban sprawl imperils freshwater supplies elsewhere and climate change threatens coastal inundations that would push more Americans to the continent's interior, UrbanLab is working with partners to position Chicago for new water-intensive industries and sustainable growth. This first phase of planning conceptualizes the Free Water District as a new world-class urban recycled freshwater manufacturing center, business incubator, and educational institution. The District focuses on solving critical global freshwater issues by bringing together manufacturers, researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs from industries, universities, and government agencies from around the world.