Construction is expensive, expansive, essential.

Female construction supervisor in a face covering, safety vest, and hard hat. Arms folded, focused on a point beyond the camera as she overlooks a project site on a sunny fall day in Cleveland.
Construction Supervisor Karrie Buxton looks over the Doan Valley Tunnel project site.

In this #BehindTheBill series, we take a closer look at the work made possible by your monthly or quarterly NEORSD bill.

Billions of dollars and billions of gallons of water are trusted to people like Karrie.

Karrie Buxton is a Construction Supervisor overseeing tunnel projects. Her primary work is to ensure the successful completion of Project Clean Lake’s huge tunnels, but she is just one of hundreds of employees working across the region to build and maintain systems that ensure Lake Erie is protected.

“When you’re 200 feet [underground], you still get a little excited,” Buxton said in a 2020 interview. “Even when you’ve done a lot of heavy industrial projects, once in a while you catch yourself and say, ‘Yeah, this is really cool’.”

Over the last five years, Project Clean Lake has accounted for about half of customers’ monthly sewer bills. The 25-year program is an expensive but essential combination of miles worth of tunnel construction, green infrastructure, and system improvements.

Now 10 years in, it’s already contributing to the eventual 4 billion-gallon-a-year reduction in Lake Erie pollution once complete.

“There are going to be challenges,” Buxton said about the ordeals of these massive construction projects. But the District has already found financial savings and new opportunities without compromising efficiency or environmental benefit, and that’s due largely to the team’s shared focus, she said.

“No [challenge] is going to be so big that you can’t find a solution, because you have yourself and a fantastic team and tremendous amount of support that aid in making decisions. You always feel empowered to make the right call.”

Sound management and smart investments mean project success and environmental benefit. Project Clean Lake is just one example of both, and each new day is an opportunity for Karrie — and coworkers like her — to seek the next great improvement for the Great Lake.

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