Ohio, with its dynamic and evolving freshwater economy, has experienced the devastating consequences of water crises in the past. However, these challenges have given birth to an undeniable vision; Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA) is positioning Cleveland, Ohio as the premier global destination in the Water Economy. Today, I am proud to announce that the State of Ohio has awarded CWA a remarkable $4 million in this year's budget, further fueling the growth of Ohio's water economy. This investment solidifies our position as global leaders in freshwater innovation and empowers us to tackle the pressing water challenges of the world head-on.
Northeast Ohio's history with industrial contaminants and the evolution of environmental regulations has positioned our region as a hub of water expertise. It is with great ambition and urgency that we have transformed this legacy into a powerful force for positive change. By leveraging technology and collaborative partnerships, we are turning this collective call to action to protect freshwater into an economic driver for the region.
Thanks to previous funding from the State of Ohio, the U.S. EDA, and Cuyahoga County, we have already made significant strides in building the physical infrastructure necessary for our success. The telecommunications network established by CWA now covers over 6,000 square miles: encompassing open water, wetlands, creeks, and rivers. This achievement makes the Lake Erie Watershed the world's largest digitally connected freshwater body. By creating this vast ‘sandbox’ - or testbed - we provide innovators with a real-world environment to trial and demonstrate cutting-edge ideas that can revolutionize water management and public health worldwide.
The Great Lakes, containing 21% of the world's fresh surface water, are a global treasure. Combined with our region's expertise and awareness of water-related challenges, CWA's testbed proudly asserts that Ohio is the premier destination for freshwater innovation. Our focus on the entire lifecycle of IoT technology, with particular attention to sensors that monitor water quality and conditions, addresses critical public health and water management issues like hypoxia and e.coli. This effort ensures our region leads the charge in IoT and smart water management sectors, which are experiencing rapid growth worldwide.
Moreover, the continued development of our Water Accelerator Testbeds catalyzes our region's water economy by attracting innovators from around the world right here to Ohio to develop their technologies. The demand for jobs within water and water-tech-related sectors is soaring, and we are thrilled to explore opportunities for workforce development. To this end, we have partnered with Argonaut, the CMSD maritime program, allowing students to gain practical experience by deploying and maintaining CWA's smart buoys. By nurturing local talent, we empower our community and cement Ohio's position as a global leader in water innovation.
As climate change intensifies, water stress will continue to affect regions worldwide. At CWA, we recognize the evolving need for advanced solutions and are committed to addressing these challenges. With the continued support of the State of Ohio, we will expand our testbed footprint, doubling our telecommunications coverage to 12,000 square miles. We will also begin to explore industrial-specific technologies, ensuring our water resources are utilized responsibly. This expansion will enable us to welcome water-intensive businesses and the accompanying job opportunities from water-scarce regions.
With this funding, we will accelerate technological advancements, foster economic growth, and create a more sustainable future for coastal freshwater communities worldwide. As we forge ahead, we remain committed to our bold vision of transforming Ohio into the global epicenter of water innovation, where solutions to the world's water challenges are born. Together, we will ensure a prosperous and resilient future for generations.
August 17, 2023