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Thursday, December 31, 2015

HISTORY: This viral list of 1915 facts is full of lies. Except the ones about water.

Turns out this viral list of 1915 "facts" rounding out 2015 is actually a fake, filled with untruths and misleading statements. But FWIW, it turns out the few about water are indeed true.

Gizmodo's Factually posted a breakdown of the list, a graphic that has made its internet rounds back in 2002 and 2006 with very few changes beyond a Photoshopped date. Based on the 1915 fact-checking, the water statements as shown below turn out to be true.

Only 14 percent of homes had a bathtub.
If this is referring to tubs with running water, that's probably true. The Cleveland Division of Water has been around in some form since the 1850s but even in 1915 its service was only beginning to reach beyond the city of Cleveland. In terms of sewers, a primary pipe taking sewage away from the city was not constructed until 1905 (and until a treatment plant was constructed in 1933, that sewage simply dumped out into Lake Erie).

A mechanical engineer could make about $5,000 per year.
Engineering is a huge part of water infrastructure generally, and that's true in our case. For comparisons today, a civil engineer starting annual salary averages $62,000.

Women only washed their hair once a month.
But we assume all of us are washing our hair more frequently in 2016, since on average Americans use 80-100 gallons of water per day.

Diarrhea was one of the six leading causes of death.
Sanitation improvements in the first half of the 1900s made tremendous strides in public health. Around the world, sanitation remains a huge concern: Diarrhea is still accountable for 20% of the six leading causes of child deaths worldwide.

Canned beer hadn't been invested yet.
True, it was not invented until 1935. And when we talk beer, we always say drink responsibly and flush responsibly.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#SewerU: Think you know sewers? Get schooled on January 26 at Sewer University

If you are making education part of your 2016 resolutions, this is one event you won't want to miss.

Sewer University presents you with a simple history and future of clean water in the Cleveland area, and the next session is scheduled for January 26 in Cuyahoga Heights. You can register to attend.

Nearly 100 guests joined us in November for our first ever SewerU, and you can watch the full video online. On January 26, Director of Watershed Programs Frank Greenland will cover topics like regional history, sewer types and functions, stormwater problems, green infrastructure and more. Guests will also have an opportunity to tour our award-winning and certified laboratory after the presentation.

Space is limited. Register today.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

RATES: 2016 rates take effect January 1, cost-saving programs available to eligible customers

The 2016 rates in blue take effect January 1, 2016.

On January 1, 2016, our Cleveland sewer rate increases to $78.05 per MCF (1,000 cubic feet of water or 7,480 gallons) and suburban rates increase to $79.85 per MCF. See the full rate schedule.

Reduced rates are available to customers who meet Homestead or Affordability Program criteria. We also have other cost-saving programs available.

The increases seen in the 2012-2016 rate schedule are due to major construction projects and a 25-year program to reduce combined sewer overflows known as Project Clean Lake. We are currently finishing a rate study to determine the next rate schedule slated to begin in 2017.


Monday, December 21, 2015

LIST: 5 naughty things that will earn you a visit from Krampus this Christmas

Krampus says be good to your plumbing and your environment for goodness sake.

Don't be naughty this year.

Of course, St. Nicholas is known for bringing gifts to kids on the Nice list. The Naughty list earns children a more frightening visit from Krampus, a creature of European tradition who hands our more punishment than presents.

We want everyone to do the right thing and protect water. But if Krampus knows who's been bad or good, these are the Naughty things to avoid.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

WATCH: When we sense a disturbance in the Force, things tend to get messy. #StarWars

We don't think this is the Force George Lucas or J.J. Abrams had in mind. Still, clean water wouldn't be the same without it.

Our own treatment-plant Jedi Christen Wood shows us how force and the rarely-seen sludge "explosion" helps keep a sewer line clear and gives the Death Star's demise a run for its money.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

SPACE: "May the force pee with you," water recycling on the Space Station

It may not be a Star Wars galaxy far far away, but when astronauts are far from home, water is a life force.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield shows us how the water flows on the International Space Station, featuring a closed-loop treatment system in which the water astronauts use—even their wastewater—is recycled and made safe for drinking.

Many on earth are surprised to learn the water they flush is treated in a similar—but much larger—water cycle: The same water that flows down your toilet ultimately makes its way back to the environment, the common source for your drinking water at home. In Cleveland, the water cycle includes Lake Erie where we discharge treated water and from which Cleveland Water draws its clean-water supply.

It's the same cycle. The Space Station's is just much further from home.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

LeBRON: In response to Steph Curry's toilet, our open letter to LeBron James

Dear LeBron James:

You will always be number 1 to Cleveland. Which is why your number 2 is so important to us.

Your contributions to the game of basketball, Cleveland, Ohio and the entire sports world are well documented and your acclaim is well deserved.

We are sure you are aware of Golden State Warrior Steph Curry recently acknowledged his game performance has improved since getting a new toilet, and from a sanitary and health perspective, we can understand how such a a change can affect one's performance.

But we believe true and lasting greatness goes much further than a toilet. This is not about Steph Curry's toilet. It's about Cleveland basketball's run for the throne.

You are a man who understands the value of community, of family, of pride, and we hold those same values dear as a public utility. Which is why we take any steps necessary — all. steps. necessary. — to ensure you have the best throne experience and the cleanest water any king could have. We pride ourselves on it.

We already offer award-winning and nationally renown wastewater treatment service and customer education, and we understand properly treating the flow of water coming from Cleveland only furthers your drive towards a championship. We stand (well, sitting may be more appropriate in this case) behind you.

LeBron, I assure you the service we offer Northeast Ohio meets the highest water-quality and sanitation standards in order to ensure optimum game-time performance well into June. Which is why you have no need to concern yourself with your toilet. We'll take care of that, while you keep your sights set on the real throne.

Go Cavs, and go LeBron.

Julius Ciaccia
Chief Executive Officer
Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District

Monday, December 7, 2015

JUST IN: Wally reinstated as official spokesdrop, Austin returns to back-up role

"Wally has shown he's ready for this. We're ready to move on and get back to work."

That was the official statement from the Sewer District this morning as their official spokesdrop Wally Waterdrop was reinstated as starting spokesdrop for the foreseeable future.

"Austin did what he could this past weekend. He showed guts," said CEO Julius Ciaccia Monday of Austin Waterdrop's promotion to the starting outreach line-up in the midst of the waterdrop controversy. "But Wally is our starter and we are excited to see him back in the starting role."

Wally was benched last week when photos surfaced showing him in the middle of what appeared to be a party, but it was unclear whether it was an outreach event and what year the photos were taken.

"I'm not looking back, I'm looking ahead," Wally said.

LIST: 9 ways the movie Elf pretty much sums up any water lesson we could ever teach

The life lessons offered in Will Ferrell's Elf are profound and unparalleled. In this holiday season, we invite you to reflect on nine specific clean-water insights only Buddy can convey.

A short shower is just as effective as a long one.

Everyone needs some alone time. Let your throne be a place of emotional comfort.

Singing a song while you're in the shower can help you conserve water by timing your routine. Singing while someone else is in the shower is creepy.

Friday, December 4, 2015

TUNNELS: Devotion to St. Barbara is a tradition that dates back to the earliest days of tunneling

When tunnel workers began their Euclid Creek Tunnel shifts by brassing in—a safety practice of moving a small brass disc from one side of a signboard to another to signify they are heading underground—they passed an unassuming paragraph of text masking-taped to the corner of the painted plywood.

Oh dear St. Barbara, bring us grace and bless us with your everlasting devotion. Protect us from danger and accidental death, and protect us from the evils of this world.

Brassing in and out atop the Euclid Creek Tunnel shaft.
The text is a traditional prayer of Saint Barbara, a third-century Christian martyr who is considered the patron saint of underground workers. Devotions to St. Barbara date back to the "earliest mining traditions" which continue even today.

"December 4th is her feast day," said our Senior Construction Supervisor Ryan Sullivan who is working closely with the Dugway Storage Tunnel project. "The contractors usually find some way to mark the day."

Other traditions are more recent but just as prevalent in the tunneling community, including the practice of naming tunnel boring machines. Just as a boat is christened and named, these large drilling machines that burrow deep underground are traditionally named after a female as a sign of luck and respect.

Our Euclid Creek Tunnel was bored by the TBM named Mackenzie, the same machine that will dig the Dugway Storage Tunnel beginning next year. She is currently being rehabilitated in preparation for her three-mile-long, 24-foot-wide tunneling journey.

Mackenzie finished the Euclid Creek Tunnel in 2013, but the tunnel was not fully complete ($3.6 million under budget) until this year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

NEWS: Back-up spokesdrop Austin named starter, Wally benched after party photos surface

NEORSD spokesdrop Wally Waterdrop at an event with fans.
Backup Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District spokesdrop Austin Waterdrop has been named starting spokesdrop for an "indefinite period of time" after photos of official spokesdrop Wally Waterdrop surfaced this week.

"Austin has been a great member of our team," said an anonymous NEORSD colleague. "We want to see how he does carrying our message of clean water and we're comfortable that he gives us the greatest chance to convey trust and reach customers."

When asked about the photos, Wally said he "did not remember" the photograph, but admitted that he "enjoys interacting with fans" at community events "regularly" throughout the year. Since the revelations, some have questioned the date of the photographs and if they could be from "some time ago," but that hasn't stopped the Sewer District from taking action.

"I've talked to Wally," our source said, "and he said he understands the situation. All we can do now is move on. The decision is made and we're excited to move forward."

NEORSD expects Wally to retain his Official Spokesdrop title but did not offer a specific timeframe for his return.

BREAKING: Motion for reconsideration of #StormwaterProgram ruling is denied, Supreme Court says program can proceed

Today, the Ohio Supreme Court denied motions from the cities of Brecksville, Strongsville, Independence, Lyndhurst and Beachwood, as well as the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, to reconsider the Court’s prior ruling in favor of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

The Court’s prior decision is final and authorizes the Sewer District, under Ohio Revised Code 6119, to manage stormwater and impose a fee for that purpose.

The Regional Stormwater Management Program is designed to address flooding, streambank erosion and water quality issues throughout much of Northeast Ohio.

“We are very pleased with this decision,” said Chief Executive Officer Julius Ciaccia. “Now we can focus on what’s really important for the region and tackle the problems caused by stormwater.”

Sewer District officials will start project planning immediately but customers will not see any fees for this program until the second half of 2016. Additional information about the program, including a list of frequently-asked questions, is available online at