Water Equity Clearinghouse

City of Cleveland, Office of Sustainability

Cleveland, OH

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in the City of Cleveland is a dedicated effort by the city to collaborate with communities on economic, environmental, and social initiatives that lead to a thriving, green city. The office has a cross sectoral impact and implements policies and practices with other city departments to advance city-wide goals. Among these goals are energy efficiency, renewable energy, zero waste, implementing local food systems, ensuring clean water, and sustainable transport. Sustainable Cleveland 2019 is a ten-year initiative that seeks to design and develop resilient and sustainable systems throughout Cleveland’s infrastructure and programs.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

The Office of Sustainability highly prioritizes engaging with the larger public and Cleveland residents, and is a key part of the team behind the Cleveland Climate Resilience & Urban Opportunity Plan. This is a grassroots effort led by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress to ensure that effective, swift, and inclusive action on climate change is taken. The Office recognizes that concentrated poverty and growing racial and economic segregation patterns play a large role in the way that communities experience climate change impacts such as flooding and storms of greater intensity and frequency. Thus, the Plan includes a mapping and analysis of the various vulnerabilities in Cleveland, based on six social factors. By identifying which areas of the city are most vulnerable in the case of a disaster, the City can allocate resources and implement programs to reduce risk.

The Plan advances certain initiatives, such as the Complete & Green Streets ordinance, the Re-imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland plan for vacant land reuse, and its on-going efforts with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to manage stormwater and reduce combined sewer overflows into Lake Erie. The Plan focuses on six high poverty neighborhoods that are actively engaged in the planning processes and educational efforts.

The Office of Sustainability also runs the Rain Barrel Program, along with the Cleveland Division of Water, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and other partners. This program distributes free rain barrels and helps create rain gardens, as well as educating residents about stormwater and sustainability in the Lake Erie watershed. The program also hires local youth, giving them an opportunity to learn more about the water sector.