Sustainability: Our path to a plan

We’ve always been environmentally minded. Our new sustainability plan is all about intentionality.


sprawling green marshy basin, partially filled with water and spotted with rocks and pink flowers in the foreground. homes are visible in the background. this greenspace sits in the community of East Cleveland, filtering stormwater naturally into the environment instead of contributing to combined sewers.
Bioretention basin on Scioto Avenue in East Cleveland, an example of sustainable green infrastructure. Photo by Anne Roberto @neorsd.

For an agency tasked with cleaning wastewater and managing stormwater for the almost 50 years, sustainability is not a new concept.

Strategic sustainability, however, is something to be excited about.

This month, the Sewer District launches its first-ever Sustainability Plan, a comprehensive framework for operations and decision-making that will allow us to continue providing critical services, protecting our environment, and preserving resources.

“We are an environmental organization and always have been,” said CEO Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells. “Sustainability has had a place in our strategic plans for a long time. But sustainability isn’t a goal of its own. It’s the framework within which we set every other goal.”

The District’s Sustainability Plan is available online and follows 6 principles that guide the objectives it sets forth:

  • Make informed decisions with sustainability in mind.
  • Be efficient and seek opportunities to reduce waste and energy usage.
  • Seek co-benefits, collaborate, and plan for the long-term recognizing the impacts of climate change, changing rainfall patterns and aging infrastructure.
  • Optimize the function and resiliency of the Regional Stormwater System by maintaining or improving water quality, mitigating the effects of flooding, and arresting stormwater-induced erosion.
  • Promote diversity, equity, inclusion, innovation, and wellness within District operations and the service area.
  • Find opportunities to share our story and provide progress updates.

Marie Fechik-Kirk is our Sustainability Manager who worked closely with department reps across the organization while developing the plan to know what’s working, where employees see challenges, and where opportunities exist. “Sustainability strengthens our mission,” she said.

“No matter what you do as an employee, your work has an impact on the services we provide,” Marie recently told our staff. “That means each of us have an opportunity to be more resourceful, more creative, or more connected to protect public health and the environment now and in the future.”

Read the complete plan.



Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

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