Project Clean Lake has spent the last decade underground where we have led and learned — and now, changed for the better.

Image for post
Image for post
Construction Supervisor Karrie Buxton walks in the under-construction Doan Valley Tunnel project.

Traditional anniversaries commemorate 10 years with metal. Modern conventions honor it with diamonds.

We’re marking this particular 10-year anniversary with concrete, greenery, and now, pen to paper.

On Thursday, December 3, we approved a joint agreement with state and federal agencies to amend our Project Clean Lake pollution-control program in this its tenth year, a modification that will enhance plant operations, improve water quality, and save customers money in the long run.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Board of Trustees approved the agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and the State of Ohio to modify the District’s $3 billion combined sewer overflow consent decree known as Project Clean Lake, an agreement that was approved in 2010 and formally signed in 2011. …

Our 2021 sewer rate changes take effect January 1, the final year of our current five-year rate schedule.

Image for post
Image for post

The increase is about $6 per MCF (1,000 cubic feet of water used) with a $2 increase in the base rate. Customers who qualify for our reduced Homestead or Affordability rates will see an increase of about $3 per MCF.

Our regional stormwater management fee remains unchanged for 2021. The complete five-year schedule can be found on our Customer Service page.

In a year of challenges, we understand how rate changes affect customers. We continue to offer cost-saving programs including crisis assistance, plumbing assistance, and Affordability and Homestead discounts. You can see how to apply and whether you qualify at

We are conducting a study to determine the rate schedule for the years 2022–2026.

Infrastructure is everywhere. How we serve is about making our systems, relationships, and futures better together.

Image for post
Image for post

United for Infrastructure 2020 September 14–21 is a week of events focusing attention on the critical role of infrastructure in Americans’ daily lives. From roads and bridges to airports and plumbing, constructed systems keep our country functioning, and their future relies on proper maintenance, strategy, and investment as reflected in this year’s theme #RebuildBetter.

This year, as we raise awareness of our own opportunities to “rebuild better,” we focus on three key areas:

Rebuild systems better.

Ten years into our Project Clean Lake combined sewer control efforts, we have already reduced annual CSOs by 1 billion gallons. System improvements and green infrastructure are improving water quality with each year, but we also understand there are significant obstacles ahead, including legacy system challenges and funding. …

Samples from our treatment plants among other Ohio utilities’ being analyzed for potential to track future COVID outbreaks

Image for post
Image for post

Beginning in May, we explored a potential partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency to provide influent samples from our treatment plants as part of a COVID-19 pilot study.

That partnership is now a reality.

A partnership of EPA, Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Health, and the Ohio Water Resource Center are monitoring utilities’ influent samples — including ours — to study viral genetic material in wastewater and its potential to serve as an indicator of emerging COVID-19 in communities.

A few important related notes:

  • This study is not looking at viability or transmission of COVID-19 in wastewater.
  • The weekly plant influent sample collection is already part of our existing protocols. …

15,000-foot Dugway Storage Tunnel completion is latest Project Clean Lake milestone

Image for post
Image for post

A final adjusting change order on the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s Dugway Storage Tunnel June 18 closed the project contract more than $4.6 million under budget, a result of outstanding management and a sign of more Lake Erie water quality improvements to come.

The Dugway Storage Tunnel, originally a $153 million project, is the second in a series of seven storage tunnels constructed as a part of Project Clean Lake, the Sewer District’s 25-year, $3 billion program to drastically reduce the volume of combined sewer overflow entering local waterways during heavy rain events.

The DST is the third tunnel overall; prior to Project Clean Lake, the Sewer District constructed the Mill Creek Tunnel located in the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Center service area. …

Construction obligations, possible revenue loss expected to impact customers

Image for post
Image for post
Pieces of Doan Valley Tunnel’s concrete lining are placed on the segment car to be transported to the advancing tunnel boring machine.

In a letter to federal congressional leaders, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District requested the inclusion of sewer and stormwater infrastructure in the next round of COVID stimulus funding.

The funding would allow clean water agencies, who provide critical public health and environmental services, to fill operations revenue losses and ensure continued delivery of services while meeting ongoing regulatory requirements.

Nationwide, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies estimates that public clean water agencies will face a $16.8 billion loss of revenue as a result of the pandemic. …

Earth Day turns 50, so what?

Image for post
Image for post
Earth Day in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland State University, 1970. Details.

Last year marked a unique five-decade anniversary as we remembered the last fire that burned on the Cuyahoga River, sparking national attention and an environmental movement.

One year later, out of the haze emerged the first Earth Day.

This 2020 year has a haze of its own that makes celebrations odd and the passage of time harder to process. But this fiftieth Earth Day is no less significant than the crooked river’s comeback. We are proud of the progress and we remain committed to the cause.

There is no disconnecting the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire and the 1970 Earth Day. As awareness was heightened and more than 200 million Americans demonstrated in Earth Day events across the country, the Environmental Protection Agency was established that year. And while we the regional utility to manage clean water in Cleveland were not created until 1972, the spotlight continued to shine on our response to a river on the brink of collapse. …

Our services continue around the clock. Here’s how we’re meeting the challenge.

Image for post
Image for post
Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant, Cleveland, Ohio. Photo courtesy Nick Bucurel.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District remains committed to protecting the environment and announces the following measures to ensure core services and water quality are maintained. The agency’s commitment to customers and the environment will endure the COVID-19 pandemic, and service will continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Life at the moment is far from business as usual,” said Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, CEO. “But our water professionals and processes are in place to ensure customers can expect business as usual from our work as a utility.”

What changes?

Customer Service
Our Customer Service team shifted wholly to a call-back option and online communication platform since the early days of the pandemic. Customers have the following options available to reach Customer Service, including a new Customer Service hub…

Be careful what you reach for, wipes and similar TP alternatives should not be flushed.

Image for post
Image for post

As packages of toilet paper fill carts and Northeast Ohio is left with empty shelves, many Americans are stocking up on disposable wipes or other alternative solutions to perceived TP shortages. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District reminds you that while the packaging might say “flushable,” wipes should never be flushed down the toilet.

“Flushable wipes are not truly flushable,” said Jim Bunsey, Chief Operating Officer. “They might go down the drain, but they do not break up like regular toilet paper.”

In addition, paper towels, facial tissues and disinfecting wipes are also no-nos. …

How through the dust and muck of miles of underground construction, a cleaner Lake Erie is emerging.

Image for post
Image for post

“What are they building there, anyway?” is a question motorists might ask upon seeing cranes and other machinery looming behind construction fencing by Interstate 90 and Cleveland’s Memorial Shoreway. Even when this work is completed, and the equipment, dust, and safety-vested crews are gone, what remains of the work won’t yield an obvious answer, as it’s mostly taking place underground.

What they’re building are massive storage tunnels — colossal projects that involve tried-and-true excavation techniques, modern technology, and dedicated teams of top-tier engineers, specialists, and laborers.

Seven storage tunnels are being built to fulfill the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s Project Clean Lake goal of all but eliminating sewage overflows into the Cuyahoga River, area streams, and Lake Erie, by 2035. …


Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Official Medium channel of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in Cleveland, OH

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store