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BUFORD — In the first full year since the opening of its campus, The Water Tower drew more than 8,000 visitors to 2500 Clean Water Court in Buford, where the water innovation hub hosted programs and events related to water quality, treatment processes, reuse, hydraulics, backflow prevention, stormwater, workforce training and more. 

“The Water Tower innovation hub is focused on convening bright minds and dedicated professionals to collaboratively solve real-world water and environmental challenges,” The Water Tower’s CEO, Melissa Meeker, stated in a 2023 annual report titled “Innovation Starts Here.” “Looking back on the past year, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved alongside our incredible partners.”

In 2023, The Water Tower provided support for training 600 workers through 51 classes. The innovation hub’s research efforts included collaborating with 40 utilities and 13 academic partners.

The Water Tower’s campus features a demo area with access for active, secure testing of water treatment and monitoring technologies. Special photo: The Water Tower.

In a message from the board chairs of the two nonprofit organizations that comprise The Water Tower initiative — The Water Tower at Gwinnett and The Water Tower Institute — Nick Masino and Eileen O’Neill stated, “Utilities face a multitude of challenges as they work to deliver high quality, reliable water for communities 24/7. Our mission is to provide resources that help address some of their most pressing issues.” 

The Water Tower at Gwinnett oversees the campus, real estate development and infrastructure, while The Water Tower Institute works to expand programming and address industry needs. 

“A key focus is supporting utilities with staffing and technology challenges,” the board chairs stated in the joint message. “Water providers are projected to lose a significant percentage of their workforce to retirement over the next decade and many don’t have the resources to recruit and train new operators. Our workforce initiatives include recruitment, training, and placement of new workers, as well as upskilling opportunities for existing employees.” 

Providing solutions for utilities in the water sector while training new water professionals and advancing the water community, The Water Tower was awarded several multi-year grants totaling more than $778,000 to support research and targeted workforce development. 

“Looking ahead, we’re committed to remaining agile and adjusting our sails to meet the needs of the water industry,” Meeker stated. “The Water Tower has truly become a special hub for advancing the water community.” 

The Water Tower is launching a new course April 10 designed for new water industry professionals to gain fundamental knowledge — Water 101 is an introductory class designed to convey the basics of the industry, from water utility governance to the urban water cycle. 

The Water Tower’s third annual Demo Day will be held April 18 bringing 250-plus water professionals from water technology companies and manufacturers, consulting and engineering firms, and water utilities to experience the industry’s latest technologies. 

Tours of The Water Tower and the neighboring F. Wayne Hill Water Resources Center are offered on the third Wednesday of every month. The tours are open to the public, however registration is requested as space is limited.  

For more information on The Water Tower, visit

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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