A sign on the white igloo perched next to the brown, murky water of the Menomonee Canal south of downtown says: “Making the Unthinkable Drinkable.” A small hose carries the canal’s heavily polluted water inside the 8-foot-diameter dome.

A button on the outside can be pushed to dispense clear water that is clean enough to drink, said Anne Wick. She invites curious visitors — most recently Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; Cheryl Bailey, dean of the School of Natural and Health Sciences at Mount Mary University; and Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council — to taste the finished and fully tested product.

If there is any hesitation, she smiles and offers reassurance. “I’m a nurse so I wouldn’t offer it to you if it wasn’t safe,” said Wick, communications director for Stonehouse Water Technologies. Her boss, Hensley Foster, plans to distribute the water treatment domes, and even smaller cupboard-size units, to communities in developing nations from the Caribbean to Africa that do not have access to clean water.

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