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A Global Leader in the Freshwater Economy

About CWA

Established in 2014, Cleveland Water Alliance seeks to better utilize the Great Lakes Region's economic and job-creating potential while urging greater care of our most valuable natural asset. Through a collaboration of private and public sector leaders, we’re spearheading a critical effort to broaden the way our region - and the world - values, manages, and capitalizes on its precious supply of water.

CWA has developed Lake Erie as the largest digitally connected freshwater body in the world, investing in over $5M+ in infrastructure since 2022 and attracting the attention of agencies, institutions, and water technology companies from around the world.

CWA is a global leader in facilitating a freshwater economy, mobilizing over 300 industry-leading companies, research institutions, utilities, and maritime interests, as well as federal, state, and local government agencies. Since our founding, we’ve added over 300 annual net new jobs to regional water technology industries; These jobs range from entry-level utility operators to software, manufacturing, and infrastructure engineers. CWA has also invested over $500,000 directly into early stage innovations.

Supported by this robust infrastructure and expertise, CWA continues to expand its powerful impact by leveraging collaborative research, multi-sector partnerships, data accessibility, and end-to-end solutions to spur innovation-driven impact and develop sustainable solutions to regional and global water challenges.

Cleveland Water Alliance is a non-profit organization (501c3).

Our Mission

Foster a world-class freshwater innovation ecosystem that spurs the economy, harnesses technology, informs decision makers, and drives engagement and research.

Our Purpose

We accelerate the Great Lakes region's water economy by generating innovative answers to global freshwater issues. CWA serves as a connector and hub: providing quality data, meaningful connections, powerful solutions, valuable investment, and rich opportunities to those who use, manage, and monitor our planet’s most precious asset. 

Our Vision

Our vision is to position the Great Lakes region as  home to a global water economy and technology leader that drives regional job growth, business attraction, market-driven innovation, and economic impact while stewarding watershed assets, improving water quality, and increasing healthy lakefront access for all residents and regional patrons.


Often referred to as the blue economy, the water economy is based on the foundational concept that water, a precious and limited resource, has significant economic value. Any business that utilizes water, utility that treats water, or organization that conserves water is a part of the global and interconnected water economy. Critical questions that affect our water economy hinge on how we value and use this resource. Cleveland Water Alliance is proud to support the growth and development of the local, regional, and global water economy.

From next generation water filtration membranes to IoT based water-quality sensors; From the latest autonomous underwater vehicle to satellites monitoring nutrients in our great lakes; From a ship on the open waters of Lake Erie to biomimicry-based tree wads stabilizing our shores; Each of these are unique examples of technologies and industries that are a part of the water economy. 

Cleveland Water Alliance recognizes that solution-building across sectors and stakeholders is a critical starting point when addressing the value of water. As we look toward the needs of the future, our economy will demand the expertise of water innovation technology. Industries and communities alike will need creative, new solutions to manage, conserve and optimize their water resources.

We’re here to help facilitate connections and advance powerful solutions to crucial global water challenges.

Why Cleveland?

In the 1960’s Cleveland's Cuyahoga River caught fire more than a dozen times, sparking the creation of the U.S. EPA Clean Water Act in 1972. Over fifty years of clean water innovation, conservation, and new technology development followed. This defining incident was a cornerstone for economic growth in Northeast Ohio.

Innovation has long been a part of life and work on the Great Lakes. Our region has one of the highest concentrations of water-related industry sectors in the world. This makes us perfectly suited to establish Cleveland as a globally recognized center for water innovation.

Ohio is globally recognized for its skilled workforce, low cost of doing business, corporate-friendly tax structure, and robust logistics infrastructure.

Water droplet infographic with the words "$15.3 Billion"

Ohio represents ~10% of the $15.3B US Water Economy Market

Shape of Ohio

Cleveland is primely located as the first U.S. port in the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Seaway. The Port of Cleveland serves as a premier, international, multimodal trade hub in the critical connection between the U.S. and global economies. The region offers a stable climate for climate-related stressors and weather disasters.


From 2013 to 2016, nearly 1000 new water-related jobs were created in Cuyahoga County with salaries ranging from $60K to $105k annually.

As a result of our unique positioning and assets in the U.S. market, Cuyahoga County (where Cleveland is located) is experiencing explosive job creation within the water economy, outpacing advanced manufacturing, biohealth, and additive manufacturing. Thanks to recent investments from the State of Ohio and the EDA - an incredibly competitive nationwide funding opportunity in which CWA was one of only seven organizations and the only freshwater-focused organization to receive - we are continuing to expand our workforce development and innovation efforts throughout the entire state.

Today, our water economy supports tens of thousands of local jobs as well as billions of dollars of economic impact. Our region boasts a wide range of water-intensive industries and a robust ecosystem of public utilities among the most sophisticated in water management of U.S. peer cities, which together translate to a legacy of one of the highest concentrations of water-industry expertise in the world.

CWA operates at the intersection of these public, private, and utility stakeholders to leverage this expertise and foster equitable job growth while urging greater care and conservation of our valuable natural assets, ultimately positioning Ohio as a global water innovation hub.

Smart Lake Erie Watershed

Cleveland Water Alliance is developing Lake Erie as the most digitally connected major freshwater body on the planet! Learn more about our Smart Lake Initiative here.

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Learn more about our initiative