The City of Cleveland Division of Water and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) are seeking to implement the Water Champions program through a two-year pilot program that will utilize grassroots outreach to serve at-risk communities. This program will be administered by NEORSD’s and the Division of Water’s nonprofit partner, CHN Housing Partners (CHN).
Starting in 2018, Cleveland joined the US Water Alliance’s Water Equity Taskforce, a network of seven cities that worked together to develop more equitable water policies and practices and to better understand the challenges, opportunities, and solutions to advance equitable water management. As part of the Water Equity Taskforce, Cleveland created a local Learning Team composed of utility managers, community representatives, and local foundations working to ensure that all residents have access to thriving local economies, community vitality, and healthy ecosystems through equitable water management. The Cleveland Learning Team developed the report, An Equitable WaterFuture: Cleveland, detailing recommended activities focused on “public engagement, affordability, climate resilience, and workforce development,” including the Water Champions program, a grassroots program to connect at-risk populations to water and sewer bill assistance. WaterNow and CHN will partner to implement the Water Champions program, working together to establish a baseline, research existing programs and conduct informational interviews, and provide support for stakeholder engagement and reporting.