MELISSA L. MEEKER- CEO and Founder of The Water Tower

Managing Water, One Drop a Time

Natural resources are indispensable, especially in this era of sustainable development and increased focus on reducing industrialization. Melissa L. Meeker, the CEO and Founder of The Water Tower, is creating a water innovation ecosystem in Gwinnett County, Georgia, focused on helping utilities around the world become more
progressive. The Water Tower is an entrepreneurial organization that works with the public, private, and academic sectors in four integrated areas- including applied research, technology innovation, workforce development, and community engagement- to help water and wastewater utilities reimagine the future of water.

The nonprofit focuses on applied research conducted through partnerships with utilities and universities to make their way to real-world solutions to operational challenges. And how do they do that? It begins from treatment and
monitoring technologies, smart software that turns data into guidance, and social science research on the most effective ways to communicating complex information to the public. “As an example, our society is constantly bombarded with push notifications on their mobile phones – to the point where it barely registers. How can we best notify the public in flood prone areas that a severe storm is headed their way? What information will actually make
them act and protect their family?” says Melissa. The goal of The Water Tower also includes workforce development and training, and public engagement through education on water stewardship. The unique combination and integration of these four core areas offers an Don’t give up – you will hit barriers, but keep at it! There is a way to meet your goals. ecosystem of innovation and an opportunity for all types of organizations and individuals to
thrive. The rise of TWT The creation of The Water Tower, which is unconventional yet revolutionizing, in addition
to her past roles running water districts and research foundations, has provided Melissa with interesting insights into water management. “One of my favorite water-related podcasts always asks their guests if they chose water or if
water chose them. In my case, water chose me. For as long as I can remember I was involved in water – from swimming and beach combing as a child to a multitude of jobs in the water sector,” she says.

Following her love of water as a child, Melissa started working in public, private and nonprofit worlds where she delved deeper into water resource management and restoration. She added, “ I believe my ability to draw on all of
that experience has placed me in a unique position to launch The Water Tower and create an integrated environment that will address multiple complex challenges in water. The knowledge that water is life is a huge driver. Literally nothing would exist without it. So anything we can do to bring new ideas, foster innovation, and build excitement around careers in water – are all things that can have a positive impact on our quality of life and increase community resilience.”

Struggles and successes
Similar to engineering and construction, which are male-dominated professions, it is often difficult for women to rise at the same level in the water industry. Melissa has witnessed situations where minorities have had challenges
establishing themselves as thought leaders. However, the water industry workforce has transitioned over the past fifteen years and she can foresee that the industry is ripe for inclusion and advancement in terms of diversity.
Bureaucracy within local, state and federal agencies that limited abilities to break down silos and make better-informed decisions also posed challenges. However, she overcame these challenges time and time again. Melissa has
accomplished a great deal in her career thus far and The Water Tower is a culmination of her hard work and service for the water industry.

Under Melissa’s leadership, The Water Tower has developed a sound business plan, established a strong Board of Directors, and garnered support from numerous public and private entities now committed to seeing it
succeed. The Water Tower campus is currently under construction, however, programming is already underway in the four key areas of applied research, technology innovation, workforce development, and community engagement.

Words of wisdom
“Continue to build your network. I’ve been amazed at the connection and support I’ve received just from someone introducing me to someone else,” Melissa advises.

“Most importantly, don’t give up – you will hit barriers, but keep at it! There is a way to meet your goals.”

Learn more about The Water Tower at

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