The Smart Lake Erie Watershed: 2023 Highlights in the Worlds Largest Digitally Connected Freshwater Body

December 6, 2023

Water scarcity, emerging contaminants, and the effects of climate change stress our global water systems. It is becoming increasingly difficult to ensure the health and safety of water for drinking, recreation, the vitality of coastal communities and ecosystems, and industrial needs. 

A lack of funding and inadequate opportunities for innovators to pilot and demonstrate urgently needed technologies, equipment, and systems that address these water challenges slows down the creation and implementation of needed solutions.

Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA) has long been working to mitigate these critical problems: addressing water challenges from around the world, right here in Ohio.  Through the Smart Lake Erie Watershed (SLEW) Initiative, CWA is removing barriers to technology trialing and deployment, partnering with innovators to develop crucial technologies and systems, and creating opportunities that are helping maintain the health of our freshwater while building the water economy in Cleveland and beyond. 

Photo by Jeff Pu

The SLEW Initiative is a multi-layered program consisting of various infrastructure, testbed environments, and collaboration between stakeholders, partners, and institutions that use and contribute to our collected data. CWA leverages over 200 IoT devices within the Smart Lake Erie Watershed every year, including nearly a dozen smart buoys across a growing 6,500-square-mile network in the Lake Erie watershed. The telecommunications infrastructure includes LoRaWAN (Low-Power Wide-Area Networking) technology – cost-effective devices that seamlessly deliver real-time, high-quality data used by municipalities, utilities, institutions, and other partners that monitor the health and water quality of rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. In addition, the watershed allows innovators to trial and test new equipment, systems, and technologies in a real-world environment; an early-warning system for Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), nutrient sensors, and low-cost turbidity sensors are only a few examples of the groundbreaking technology trialed and demonstrated in our testbeds.

2023 SLEW Successes

The Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative continues to grow, achieving incredible milestones along the way.

This year, through the SLEW program, we have: 

Interesting concepts that were trialed in our testbed this year include technologies like:

Looking Ahead 

As changes in our climate continue to persist and create stress on our water systems, the need for innovative solutions to address global water challenges is essential.  The abundance of fresh water and the increased investments in water technology and infrastructure have positioned Cleveland as a hub for developing and deploying innovative systems, equipment, and technologies that monitor, manage, and maintain the Great Lakes region.

The Smart Lake Erie Watershed initiative continues to be impactful. With increased focus and funding, CWA is expanding our telecommunications network infrastructure, partnering with more innovators to develop effective technologies and solutions, and driving economic development through job creation for our freshwater communities and beyond.

Blog Post Author

Author Bio

Read Full Bio

Other Blog Posts