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Monday, December 30, 2013

WATCH: 5-year-old builds wastewater treatment plant model out of Lego, puts whatever you built to shame

Wally is five years old and he built a wastewater treatment plant out of Lego.

Really, it's quite impressive. That and his narrated tour of the colorfully snapped-together facility is one of the best things I've seen in a long time. Not something I'd want to step on with bare feet in the dark, though. Check this out.

Updated December 21, 2015

Saturday, December 28, 2013

WIPES: Yep, still not flushable. Keep wipes out of pipes, Consumer Reports confirms

It's a headline we've been seeing for some time, but it's a tip worth sharing again: Flushable wipes really aren't flushable, and if you flush them you could be asking for plumbing problems.

This time, it's a story from WLS-TV out of Chicago.

RELATED: 15 things you shouldn't flush

RELATED: Quick and simple tip to help protect your plumbing if entertaining on New Year's Eve

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

TIPS: Stylish way to tell house guests you don't want them clogging your toilet during the holidays

Some people have a habit of flushing things they shouldn't flush: Disposable wipes, paper towels, wrappers, cotton swabs, and a whole lot more. And when you're entertaining guests this holiday season, if you don't know their habits, they might be flushing something in your bathroom that could cause a problem.

Here's something that might come in handy. Download and print one of our 5x7 inserts [PDF], find a frame around the house, and place your new reminder somewhere near your bathroom sink or toilet.

Let us know if you put one to use. Happy holidays.

Monday, December 23, 2013

EVENT: Make your holiday break a #h2olidays experience at @clevemetroparks "Water's Extreme Journey"

Image courtesy Cleveland Metroparks
If you're looking for a day trip during the holiday break, why not make a journey out of it?

Water's Extreme Journey is a traveling exhibit making a stop at Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek through January 12, 2014.

For a limited time, this amazing maze takes visitors on a journey of a falling raindrop through the water cycle and back to the ocean.

Interactive and adventurous, enjoy games and crafts throughout the exhibit and learn what you can do to protect the environment starting in your own backyard.

Water's Extreme Journey is supported by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the Cleveland Division of Water.

Friday, December 20, 2013

THANKFUL: For connections made in 2013, plans laid for 2014 [#h2olidays]

Thank you. Most of you who follow our blog, Facebook posts, tweets and videos know how much we enjoy interacting with and serving you in this digital realm. And we very much appreciate the engagement we've shared throughout 2013.

When it comes to our work, this year has been eventful in many ways, and our commitment to customer service, the environment, and the betterment of our region will remain strong in the coming year.

Just as we have grown our social-media relationships in the recent past, 2014 will feature new ways to help customers better understand our work, their bills, and what it takes to keep our Great Lake great. If you have questions or ideas to help make that happen, share them with us.

We wish you a peaceful holiday season and a prosperous new year.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

WEATHER: Melting snow, heavy rain, flood warnings in the forecast

With snow on the ground and heavy rain in the forecast, be prepared.

Some of our local Cleveland weather friends are predicting several inches of rain likely this weekend. With snow still standing on the saturated ground, it is possible that the rainfall could affect areas prone to flooding. What steps can you take in advance? Video after the jump.

Monday, December 16, 2013

PIC: If only every Powerpoint graph was as awesome as the one 5th-grader My'a made us

We love hearing we've made an impact on a child's life.

Even more, we love seeing that impact represented in a fifth-grader's drawn-by-hand-in-marker graph that proves a staggering 9,900% increase! In just 12 weeks!

Can't argue with statistics. It says right there: "amount of good things" the Sewer District has done.

Bam. We're not exactly sure how statistically accurate My'a Montgomery's calculations are, but her card was one of dozens we received from Mr. Candel's fifth-grade class about the water-cycle educational materials our own Ramona Lowery offered Woodbury Elementary in Shaker Heights.

Thanks again, My'a. We'll be sure to include your stats in our 2013 performance evaluation, and when we get our 2014 budget .ppt together, we're calling you.

If you'd like to request a guest speaker, send us a request.

RATES: New 2014 rates go into effect January 1, four ways to save

Our 2014 rate schedule goes into effect January 1, and there are four cost-saving programs available for qualifying customers.

The 2014 base charge is $6.60 per bill. Cleveland residents pay $62.15 per MCF ($37.75 for Homestead or Affordability Program customers), and suburban customers pay $64.55 per MCF ($38.95 for Homestead or Affordability Program customers). One MCF is 1,000 cubic feet of water consumption, equal to 7,480 gallons. Rates are charged based on actual consumption. See the full 2014-2016 rate schedule.

The 2012-2016 rates are based on maintenance and operation needs, but also account for major infrastructure investments like Project Clean Lake, a 25-year $3 billion plan to reduce pollution in Lake Erie by about 4 billion gallons a year by 2035.

We do offer four cost-saving programs that can help eligible customers pay a reduced rate: Homestead, Wastewater Affordability, Summer Sprinkling, and Crisis Assistance. All of these are briefly referenced below and detailed at

Sunday, December 15, 2013

CRAFTS: Crochet a miniature toilet, because well c'mon look at it, it's adorable.

A holiday lunch at our Administration offices ended with one of our managers receiving a crocheted mini toilet, handmade by one of our colleagues, Marina.

We think Marina made it without a pattern, which makes us love it even more, but if you by chance are interested in creating your own, we found this one by Kim Lapsley with step-by-step photos and instructions.

Cute stocking stuffer, no? Now if only we could find a water treatment plant made out of Legos...

Friday, December 13, 2013

TIPS: The #12clogs of Christmas [#infographic and video]

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but here's a wish list of a different kind.

If you whistle while you work preparing for holiday gatherings, here's a new take on a Christmas tune that will help you (or your guests) remember what not to put down the drain.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

HISTORY: Why are tunnel boring machines named, and why are they named after women?

Yesterday, our tunnel boring machine Mackenzie—who has been disassembled for more than a month but keeps right on tweeting—received a great question from a follower:

With a little help and a link shared by @HMMnews, we were able to find the answer. WNYC's Derek Wang reported earlier this year, covering Seattle's TBM Bertha, that "the tradition and practice of naming tunneling machines dates back to the earliest mining traditions" including devotions to patron saints of safety of underground workers.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

HOME: Holiday stress? Why water lines burst the way they do.

Photo courtesy justclaire, flickr

If you've every experienced a frozen or burst water line at home (our condolences if you have), "inconvenient" doesn't begin to describe it. However, the word "interesting" might.

We came across a technical but very educational blog post by Nick Berry as featured on Popular Science answering the question, "Why do pipes burst the way they do?"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

NEWS: #WaitToTweet 'til you're toilet-trained? iPotty voted worst toy of 2013

Photo courtesy Jezebel

The votes are in: The worst of the worst toys of the year is the iPotty, an iPad holder built into your child's potty-training seat.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood annually presents one unlucky winner with the TODAY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children) Award, and the voters' cases for the iPotty "winning" this year were definitive.

Whatever your opinions are about children and technology, technology in the bathrooms is a growing trend, but we never realized how far until seeing this. Either we should be aiming our #WaitToTweet message at a much younger demographic, or we better start working on our "Wally Waterdrop Saves the World" app.

What are your thoughts on worst or best toys of the year?

Monday, December 9, 2013

PIC: Sweet home Milwaukee? Trash boat has best name ever.

OK, so Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District has the best boat name ever.

Since 2012, Milwaukee's canals and rivers have been maintained with a skimming boat named the Lynyrd Skymmr.

Lynyrd Skymmr.

Worth noting today since it was on this day back in 1973 that Lynyrd Skynyrd played in Ohio, just down the road at E. J. Thomas Hall in Akron.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

AWARD: When it comes to national recognition, clean water works.

Our first internally produced technical magazine has been recognized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) as a 2014 National Environmental Achievement Award-winner.

Clean Water Works was selected to receive this Public Information & Education honor thanks to its scientific content and contribution to public education regarding water-quality issues.

You can request a copy or read our online edition.

This first issue focused on our beach monitoring efforts: "I am incredibly proud of our environmental leadership and the technical expertise of our staff," said Executive Director Julius Ciaccia. "Our substantial investment in this area demonstrates our purpose in protecting our waterways."

Congratulations to editor and art director Michael Uva and his team of contributors: Mark Citriglia, Rachel Dannemiller, Jennifer Elting, Frank Foley, Kristen Greenwood, Lindsey Koplow, Carrie Millward, Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, Nichole Schafer, Robert Scherma, Paul Skerl, and Cheryl Soltis-Muth.

VIDEO: 1928 school film shares how to treat sewage, how to set rat traps, and how not to catch malaria, typhoid, or the bubonic plague

Throwback Thursday is an opportunity to harken back to a time when we used the words "hence" and "typhoid" in daily American conversation.

The 4-minute clip above is from a 20-minute 1928 educational silent film called "Health and Hygiene" which focused on the causes of common diseases and their remedies.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

PIC: Ask an engineer how a combined sewer works. Here's what you get.

"It's a little messy around the edges," Joe said, referring to his sketch of a combined sewer regulator. I would have described it as intricate, then again, I'm not Joe.

Joe Jira is a Geographic Information System Analyst in our Engineering department, and Analyst doesn't give his enthusiasm for his work justice.

I recently saw his sketch when he offered coworkers a demonstration of our GIS technology and how he uses Google SketchUp to create diagrams of our infrastructure. The "sketch" above is his way of explaining the flow of a combined sewer in Cleveland under E. 107th and Park Lane.

Monday, December 2, 2013

LOOK: Mackenzie, now in pieces, awaits a resurrection

It is finished.

Mackenzie—the 1,500-ton tunnel boring machine that once spanned more than three football fields in total length—now rests in hundreds of pieces in the cold December Bratenahl air.

Since finishing her three-mile journey digging the Euclid Creek Tunnel back in August, she has been meticulously disassembled and brought to the surface, cataloged, and placed in storage where she began her journey in 2012, at a site known as Nine Mile Creek.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

LIST: 10 ways to protect your plumbing if you're hosting holiday guests

'Tis the season when your bathrooms could be working overtime. Are they ready for the holidays?

If you're hosting any holiday get-togethers, don't overlook one of the most essential rooms in your home. @ItsThePlumber Tim McKenna posted great tips to check before your guests arrive to ensure your bathroom and kitchen plumbing save you from any unnecessary stress.

What tips would you add to the list? Tweet yours using #h2olidays.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

AWARD: Euclid Creek Tunnel wins International Project of the Year award

We hope Mackenzie's getting her acceptance speech ready.

Our Euclid Creek Tunnel project has earned the Tunnelling Association of Canada's 2013 International Project of the Year Award, and we're honored, says Kellie Rotunno.

“We're very proud of this," said Rotunno, Sewer District Director of Engineering and Construction. "It's our first, single-pass, segmentally lined tunnel, and it is nice to have it recognized as an International success like this."

#TBT: That time James Earl Jones narrated a film about the Cuyahoga River

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

HISTORY: Next time you tap an address into your GPS, thank a pigeon. #GISday

Image courtesy Wikipedia

Before there was Google Maps, there were pigeons.

Every November, GIS Day showcases geographic information system (GIS) technology that many of us use every day without even thinking about it. It's a large part of our work, and our own GIS team has routinely used the unofficial holiday as a soapbox for sharing little-known facts about the technology and its amazing potential.

GIS Analyst Eric Baker recently reflected on the history of remote and satellite imaging dating back to the 1800s. That history included references to the year 1906 when professional photographers would harness one-shot cameras to the breast of carrier pigeons.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

#WorldToiletDay: Why a singing toilet? Because singing toilet.

Your next visit to the bathroom will never be the same.

WaterAid wants all of us to say #ThankYouToilet and be grateful for the gift of sanitation that more than 2 billion people worldwide suffer without. A cute video with a very serious message (and a hummable tune).

Learn more about us and our connection to World Toilet Day and we'll thank you, too.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

EVENT: World Toilet Day. (Yes, it's for real. Yes, it's important.)

November 19 is World Toilet Day. How might you celebrate?

WTD calls attention to the 2.5 billion people around the world lack access to proper sanitation.

If you're following this blog, or our Twitter streams or our Facebook page, you know we have no problem with clean potty humor or more serious discussions about the water cycle or wastewater treatment. But WTD is about more than that.

RELATED NEWS: Common diseases associated with sanitation, via UNICEF

As its mission statement points out, "World Toilet Day is not just about toilet humor, or an attempt to make toilets sexy. World Toilet Day has a serious purpose: it aims to stimulate dialogue about sanitation and break the taboo that still surrounds this issue. In addition, it supports advocacy that highlights the profound impact of the sanitation crisis in a rigorous manner, and seeks to bring to the forefront the health and emotional consequences, as well as the economic impact of inadequate sanitation."

The Sewer District has been in the clean-water business since 1972 where we have helped reduce pollution and bring a nearly dead river and damaged Great Lake back to life. Combine that with a 25-year program to reduce bacteria in Lake Erie and all sorts of infrastructure work, it makes sense that we would support World Toilet Day to bring appreciation to the clean-water and sanitation access we enjoy—while billions of people suffer without it.

top photo credit: Corey Ann via photopin cc | bottom image credit: NEORSD

Friday, November 8, 2013

NOTICE: Cleveland Water customers can expect a new bill format, separate bills for water, sewer

Beginning November 11, the City of Cleveland is changing its billing method for Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District customers served by the Cleveland Division of Water: The combined bill is being divided into separate bills in separate envelopes.

RELATED: Cleveland Water to split bills from NEORSD, hopes to clear confusion (The Plain Dealer, November 13, 2013)

Cleveland Water has been communicating this change to its customers and ours since before the last billing cycle. As a recap, here's what our customers can expect starting the week of November 11:
  1. No longer one combined bill. Instead of receiving one combined bill for water, wastewater, and local charges, Cleveland Water customers served by the Sewer District will now receive a separate NEORSD bill for wastewater charges.
  2. Two separate envelopes on separate days. Since Cleveland Water and NEORSD bills will now be separated, they will be mailed at separate times. Your sewer bill will be mailed about three days after your water bill and they will need to be paid separately.
  3. Two separate account numbers. NEORSD customers served by Cleveland Water formerly had all services referenced under a single account number. Starting with this separation, you will have a new NEORSD account number when making payments. You will also need this new number to sign up for eBilling (if you so choose) after you receive your first NEORSD bill under the new system. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

LOOK: Rock bottom, but the view's better than you'd expect.

It's more than just a hole. There's a whole lot going on down here.

This photo was taken recently from the bottom of the Euclid Creek Tunnel shaft 1 in Bratenahl. The photographer is standing 200 feet below the surface at the location where construction of the tunnel began back in 2012. Here's what that looked like:

Digging wrapped up in August and the Euclid Creek Tunnel is scheduled for completion in 2015.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

AWARDS: Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Stewardship Center, programs take home top honors

The Ohio Parks and Recreation Association listed the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek among its recent 2013 Awards of Excellence winners.

The facility itself was recognized with two awards and the Watershed Volunteer Program was also recognized. The Sewer District, along with the West Creek Conservancy and the City of Parma, supported the Cleveland Metroparks project as a tremendous opportunity to expand our watershed and environmental education efforts in our region.

The center offers interactive exhibits, showcases property features that help manage stormwater, and hosts many community meetings and workshops to help homeowners understand how they can contribute to a healthier watershed.

See a complete list of 2013 winners.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

LOOK: "What are those cranes popping up over the trees along I-90?"

What's all that work along I-90? Click for a larger view. (Image originally posted August 2013)

Seeing underground work from the air gives huge projects a whole new perspective.

When you see our cranes above treetops along I-90, you know work is happening but it's tough to know what that work is. Here's an aerial view of three huge Project Clean Lake projects going on at this location we call Nine Mile Creek in Bratenahl.

Those three projects include the Euclid Creek Tunnel, a Tunnel Dewatering Pump Station, and an electrical substation to power both the work and the resulting infrastructure.

Friday, October 25, 2013

CUTE: 11 of the cutest animals we've seen on the job, prepare to "Awww!"

Whether in the field or on site, our operators, investigators, and security staff have seen all kinds of cute critters. Here are some of the kinds of animals our employees have photographed while on the job.

Alligator: Yes, it's true. We found this guy in Big Creek and rescued him before he froze. Here's the full story.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

OMG! (Oh my! Green!): Eco-friendly dye helps trace sources of pollution

The green you see is not pollution. But it can help identify pollution sources.

When our Water Quality & Industrial Surveillance team is called in to find the source of a hazardous spill or an illegal discharge—like this one in Rocky River last year—the crew conducts dye testing like this. Investigators release an environmentally safe dye into the collection system, most commonly storm sewers in the area, to confirm the flow's source, route, and ultimate destination.

If you ever see a suspicious discharge in a Northeast Ohio waterway, you can contact our Environmental & Maintenance Services Center at (216) 641-6000 or tweet @neorsd.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

LOOK: Like some kind of futuristic dissection, photos tell the story of @MackenzieTBM's disassembly

Today we received this amazing set of images that show our tunnel boring machine Mackenzie as she continues to be disassembled 200 feet underground.

Last month, the 27-foot-tall Mackenzie finished digging the Euclid Creek Tunnel, a journey that spanned three miles under Cleveland and Lake Erie. The tunnel won't be officially complete until 2015, but Mackenzie has done her job. She's being transported back to Bratenahl in pieces where she began her dig in 2012.

These photos show Mackenzie up close as she is being disassembled piece by enormous piece.

#h2olloween / LIST: 5 scary-looking microscopic wastewater creepy-crawlies

Black cats, haunted houses, things that go bump in the night, none of these Halloween mainstays evoke the level of fear that dirty water should.

We asked our Analytical Services staff to share some of the scariest creatures they find thriving in the wastewater treatment process. Here are their top five, but don't be fooled by their scary looks; these microscopic little guys tell us a lot about the job we're doing.

1. Water bear: A type of multi-celled organism, the water bear is an indicator of the age of wastewater sludge (also known as biomass). Scariest feature: It has four pairs of legs and eight claws on each foot.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

VIDEO: Kids news program Newsdepth goes deep with Mackenzie, how sewers work

Mackenzie dug her way into hundreds of Ohio schools late last month.

After our tunnel boring machine Mackenzie finished digging the 18,000-foot-long Euclid Creek Tunnel in August, she was brought to the surface piece by piece, and a school news program featured her accomplishment in September.

The clip above is from the September 18 Ideastream program Newsdepth, a weekly news program for Ohio students in grades three through eight. Here's the complete half-hour episode.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

PIC: It's a bug's life.

In this image, Wastewater Analyst Lindsay Koplow is culturing water fleas. But this culture has nothing to do with the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The fleas are cultured—cultivated and nourished—and maintained every day of the year. Seems like a lot of work for a bug, no? Well the water fleas are part of a test we conduct to ensure we are treating the wastewater to its highest standards. It's known as whole effluent toxicity, or WET testing. If the fleas weren't healthy, it would affect the validity of our test results.

Healthy fleas are happy fleas, and that means more reliable results.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

WATCH: Do you see what we see? Sewer maintenance and video inspections

How do we get a closer look at problems in our sewers? One way is using a video rig and camera like this. This is a demonstration set-up so our Open House visitors can see the camera and its maneuverability in action.

Lights. Camera. Action.

Video cameras are important tools of the trade when it comes to our Sewer System Maintenance & Operation team. They help locate problems and verify solutions in hard-to-reach areas underground.

In this video from our YouTube archives, our sewer maintenance crews clear a local sewer blockage and then use a remote-controlled video camera to inspect the job. Josiah tells us a little about it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

VIDEO: Follow the flow beyond the drain

We have a few "Where does it go?" videos of our own, but this one from The Value of Water Coalition might be a new fave of ours.

Our treatment process is very similar, but we provide a different method of disinfection. Still, Walter the Water Droplet and our own Wally Waterdrop's journeys have a lot in common.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

FAQ: 21 customer questions about the #StormwaterProgram ruling, fees, billing, and more

Updated February 16, 2015

We understand many customers have questions about their bills following last week's news that we can no longer collect fees for stormwater management. We have already begun fielding questions in our Customer Service department and online, and these appear to be the most common so far.

If you have other questions not listed here, leave us a comment and we will provide an answer for you.

1. What is the court’s ruling?
The Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled September 26, 2013 that the Sewer District did not have the authority to pursue its Regional Stormwater Management Program and cannot charge the stormwater service fee. The Sewer District has been enjoined (prevented) from implementing the program. Read the decision.

2. Why did the court decide this?
The court stated that the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6119 that outlines the authority of the Regional Sewer District did not give us the authority to enact this program.

3. What happens next?
The Sewer District appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio. We are confident that we will be successful as we have been in lower court. UPDATE 2015 02/16: Watch the oral arguments from September 9, 2014

Friday, September 27, 2013

BREAKING: Court rules against #StormwaterProgram, environment and customers will remain the focus of our next steps

Late Thursday, the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled against the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in finding that, among other things, the Sewer District does not have the authority under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6119 or its Charter to enact and implement the Regional Stormwater Management Program under Title V, or to collect its stormwater fee.

As a result of this ruling, the District is suspending Regional Stormwater Management Program activities and the collection of stormwater fees for the program while the District pursues an appeal of the Court’s ruling to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Sewer District asks Supreme Court to hear case on storm-water fee (The Plain Dealer, Nov. 12, 2013)

21 common customer questions about our #StormwaterProgram, fees, billing, and more

We understand as customers you are going to have questions in the coming days about the program, its work, and fees you have already invested. Let us assure you that we are evaluating next steps and will keep customers informed through all available means as details develop.

As many of our member communities can attest, the work being done is desperately needed in our region. We remain dedicated to protecting our region's health and environment. We believe in the environmental benefits of regional stormwater management and are committed to keeping our Great Lake great.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#neorsdTOUR: Share your best pics and your feedback from the tour for chances to win

If you are joining us this Saturday, make sure your phone is charged and you grab a comment card while you're there.

We're excited to announce two contests for this year's Open House Saturday, September 28 from 9 to 2 at the Westerly Wastewater Treatment Center:

Share your best photos on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and tag them with #neorsdTOUR for a chance to win one of three T-shirts and a #neorsdTOUR prize pack. Also, be sure to complete a comment card so we can improve these events in the future. We'll randomly choose one winner from those comments next week to receive a Kindle Fire.

Friday, September 20, 2013

PIC: A machine designed to dig tunnels is gonna get dirty. Here's how dirty.

When our tunnel boring machine Mackenzie finished digging the Euclid Creek Tunnel late last month, she did so on-line, ahead of schedule, and under budget.

It's likely some of the money she saved will go towards a new paint job.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

GOOD: Employees run 5K around our largest treatment plant for charity, wellness

When you operate one of the largest wastewater treatment plants of its kind in the country, you can make a lot of good things happen. And that's not even considering the hundreds of millions of gallons of water treated on a daily basis.

Our employees' latest idea: Why not map a 5-kilometer route around the inside of the plant and welcome employees and their families to run for a good cause?

That's what employees did September 14 as the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District held its first-ever Cuyahoga River Clean Water Classic 5K Run/Walk at the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Center in Cuyahoga Heights.

Friday, September 13, 2013

LIST: Friday's 13 fears of water, storms, lakes, and fish

Our clean-water work should inspire confidence in the community, but we found there are also many phobias associated with many aspects of our daily duties. Here are 13 we found.