Challenge To Conserve Water Kicks Off In Cleveland

Muralist Wyland at a podium announcing his foundation’s water conservation challenge.
Muralist Wyland challenges Clevelanders to take the water conservation pledge. [Mark Urycki / ideastream]
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The man who painted the whales on the Cleveland Public Power building along I-90 says he’ll be back to restore the work in June.

The muralist, known as Wyland brought officials from his Wyland Foundation to Cleveland Wednesday to kick off their national campaign to conserve water.

Wyland met with high school students and Mayor Frank Jackson at Davis Aerospace and Maritime School, asking them to sign a pledge to save water. It’s an online challenge with competing cities around the country. 

Cleveland Chief of Sustainability Matt Gray says the city is on it.

“We actually track city reductions in water use all the time,” said Gray. “And so the Cleveland water department is doing a lot of work on leaks – not just on our residents and businesses but through the whole distribution system. That’s probably the biggest thing we can do as a city is address those leaks that every legacy city has, but we’re really working on that.”  

Water main breaks are one thing but Gray says the water department is now able to spot even small leaks at residential houses. They use electronic water meters to measure usage every hour.

“So what they can do is, if they see a continuous use of water, let’s say for a week, they know something is probably wrong,” said Gray. “You’re probably not using water ALL the time. So when they see that they can automatically notify that resident and 90% of the time those residents or businesses identify it on their own and fix it.”

Since 2014, the department has sent out 70,000 notices alerting customers of a leak.

Cleveland Chief of Sustainability Matt Gray says stopping water leaks is the number one goal in conserving water. [Mark Urycki / ideastream] 

The Wyland Foundation recommends turning off water when brushing your teeth and taking shorter showers. They distributed small plastic hourglasses to the students that can be mounted on a shower wall. Five minutes per turn.

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