Smart Lake Erie Watershed expanding with help from local Cleveland partners

In 2021, Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA)Cleveland Water, and LimnoTech activated the Smart Lake Erie Watershed, an award-winning regional smart water monitoring network – the first in the nation – to inform and improve public health, safety, utility operations, supply chain management and water security throughout Greater Cleveland. 

Today, four smart buoys monitor water quality in Central Lake Erie as part of the Smart Lake Erie Watershed initiative. The buoys will be deployed this month as the new monitoring season kicks off, expanding the initiative and enhancing its ability to provide functional, streamlined solutions for water quality monitoring of ever-changing lake conditions including dangerous winds and waves, thermal upwellings, hypoxic waters, and toxic algal blooms. 

Each buoy acts as a floating laboratory, continually collecting data on lake conditions and sending it to an online monitoring system where it can be viewed by Cleveland Water staff as well as the public. Using this data, staff can track parameters such as water temperature, pH, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen in real-time, enabling them to anticipate and respond to changes in lake water quality far in advance of the water being drawn into a treatment plant.

“These buoys allow us to monitor the water coming into our four water treatment plants and make targeted treatment adjustments,” said Alex Margevicius, Commissioner of Cleveland Water. “The ability to receive advance notice of potential water quality issues as well as respond on a plant-by-plant basis is a critically important advantage in ensuring our customers receive the best quality drinking water. It also saves time and money.”

The project has improved information accessibility to the general public by removing traditional barriers that have prevented the sharing of real-time data around water quality and conditions, engaging and empowering citizens to understand environmental phenomena that affect their water quality and take measures to improve the health of our Great Lake. 

“Expanding this Smart Lake Erie Watershed network will empower science-based, data-driven water quality management actions that will not only benefit our community, but also solidify Greater Cleveland as a global freshwater innovation hub,” said Bryan Stubbs, President and Executive Director of CWA. “We look forward to growing this collaborative effort to advance technology applications that improve our understanding, use, conservation, and management of our Great Lake, ultimately improving public health, strengthening our freshwater economy, and adding local jobs.” 

As the shallowest and warmest of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is not only the most biodiverse and bioproductive, but the most vulnerable to our region’s agricultural, community, maritime and manufacturing dynamics. The Smart Lake Erie Watershed aims to impact positive change in quality of life, amenity accessibility, and economic development in Greater Cleveland, all while drastically reducing the traditionally high cost associated with building out and maintaining such a robust network. 

About Cleveland Water Alliance

Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA) is a non-profit organization that seeks to better utilize the economic and job-creating potential of Lake Erie while also urging greater care of the valuable natural asset. Established in 2014, CWA serves a mission to build upon Ohio and the Great Lakes’ assets and resources to create a clean water innovation ecosystem that harnesses technology, spurs the economy, enhances education, and drives research. As a collaboration of private and public sector leaders, CWA is spearheading a critical effort to broaden the way Northeast Ohio values, manages, and capitalizes on its precious supply of freshwater.

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