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Environment & Energy

Cleveland Water Equity Leader Recognized for Attracting More Attention to Environmentalism

Cleveland
WKSU
The Great Lakes Protection Fund Leadership Awards recognize people working to solve issues in the Great Lakes basin.

The Vice-President of the Alliance for the Great Lakes is being recognized for her efforts to raise awareness of environmentalism for the people who rely on Lake Erie for drinking water.

One recipient of this year’s Great Lakes Protection Fund Leadership Award is Crystal M.C. Davis. She says fair and equitable access to water is just as important as concerns for the lake’s wildlife and ecosystem.

“There tends to be less of a focus on the people that depend on the Great Lakes," Davis said. "So that made us really redirect our work from not just talking about agricultural pollution and aquatic invasive species, but to also talk about drinking water issues like water affordability, aging water infrastructure, and lead service lines.

“Ohio has the second highest number of lead service lines in the country after Illinois. It's going to be really doubling down on our investment, at all levels of government, on addressing this aging infrastructure. We know that over the next 20 years, we're facing a price tag for drinking water and wastewater improvements of $27 billion, but we need to start making sizable down payments on that to mitigate any issues that we could see in the future.”

Davis says she’s hopeful for more community engagement on topics of how to keep the lake clean. And she also helped to develop the first-ever Ohio Environmental Justice Platform, which she hopes to present to Cleveland’s next mayor. Davis is the keynote speaker at this year’s Ohio EPA Sustainability Summit and is also serving a three-year term on Gov. Mike DeWine’s Ohio Lake Erie Commission.