Stay connected. Subscribe today.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

NEWS: Don't be shad. Fish die-off is common, natural

In recent weeks, hikers along Metroparks streams or winter-stroll beachgoers may have seen a surge of dead fish washed up on the shore.

Is the die-off of these silvery blue-green fish a sign of environmental turmoil, or a natural occurrence? It’s the latter, and it happens regularly.

Shad can’t stand the change: Known as the eastern gizzard shad, this fish species (Dorosoma cepedianum) is not native to Lake Erie or its tributaries, and is very sensitive to rapid temperature changes. Lake Erie’s and streams' water temperature—because of shallow depth and northerly locations—can change very quickly in early and late winter months, causing die-offs of significant numbers of gizzard shad.

“It can be unsightly, but it’s important to note that in most cases the die-offs are natural,” said John Rhoades, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Supervisor of Environmental Assessment.

Colder temperatures slow the shad’s body’s ability to draw nutrients from surrounding water, which commonly leads to starvation during colder months as well, causing further die-offs in December, January and February.

#WaitToTweet: Toilet-texting trends toward topical

We're always looking for creative ways to talk about the importance of clean water. So if we can talk about our business where people are doing theirs, sign us up.

That's what makes our #WaitToTweet campaign fun.

Our infographic and stats about cell-phone-users' toilet-texting trends was our way to educate customers about the flow of water beneath their seats. It's received a nod from The Plain Dealer, Cleveland Scene, and now the Alan Cox Show:

It's not the first time we've been on Alan's airwaves, and the common hook seems to be fecal bacteria. Go figure.

Friday, February 22, 2013

WORK: Made to odor? Smell may annoy, but it's safe.

Next week, we're planning a sewer relining project in the area of E. 123rd Street. During the project, you may notice a "plasticky" smell, but be assured it's safe. Annoying perhaps, but safe.

We mailed a letter to residents in the East 123rd neighborhood between Parkway Road and Fairport Avenue this week to inform them of the work scheduled for the week of February 25, weather permitting.

The sewer-improvement project includes "cured-in-place" pipe, which contains styrene resin and is known to cause odors. The contractor will be venting the sewer line to minimize the smell, but it still may be detected by the human nose. As the letter explained, the level of odor is significantly lower than the allowable exposure limits deemed safe. You can download a copy of the letter and FAQ attachment.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

PHOTO: Rub a dub dub, four men in a President's tub?

Of the many fun facts and statistics surrounding the history of presidential plumbing and the White House, one of our favorites is the tale of President William Howard Taft's bath tub.

President Taft's nickname was "Big Bill" for a reason. At a weight of 330 pounds, his facilities required special attention. The 1909 photograph above shows Taft's specialty-made bath tub which measured seven feet long and almost four feet wide, big enough to fit four grown men. The tub itself weighed close to a ton and might have held about 600 gallons. That's a lot of wastewater.

Today, DC Water handles wastewater treatment for the White House and all of the District of Columbia.

Taft's original tub was removed from the White House during a renovation in 1952.


Image from

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

VALENTINES DAY: You had me at h2o. #LoveCleanWater valentines we'd like to see.

If you want to send your own, check out our Wally Waterdrop's Pinterest board. Or scroll to the bottom for a printable PDF.

Or print your own!

PIC: 10,000 elephants worth of ash

What better way to mark Ash Wednesday than with ashes? An ash lagoon, more specifically.

In this image, crews are cleaning one of three ash lagoons at our Southerly Wastewater Treatment Center. These lagoons are the destination for ash resulting from our incineration process. You can see them in the map below:

Each lagoon holds 30,000 cubic yards, and as this project nears completion, it will have removed 60,000 tons of biosolids—the same weight as about 10,000 elephants.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent which counts down to Easter Sunday.

Thanks to our Ken Burns for the photograph, and Ramona Lowery for the details.

Monday, February 11, 2013

VIDEO: Dead fish near our treatment plant? It's nature and temperature, not pollution.

Are we poisoning fish by releasing polluted water into the Cuyahoga River? Contrary to the YouTube video's inaccurate captions above, we are not.

We were alerted to this video today, a clip that was posted to YouTube January 31 with the title, "NEORSD sewage kills fish in Cuyahoga River." The title and captions were incorrect, but the occurrence is worth a closer look to understand the issues and results.

The simple answer: This kind of fish die-off is a natural event at this time of year, not a result of sewage pollution in our effluent. It comes down to water temperature and temperature-sensitive fish.

Friday, February 8, 2013

LIST: Top 7-and-a-half ways wastewater treatment is like a romantic relationship

OK, it would be way too easy to make a J. Geils Band reference here when comparing romance to wastewater treatment, but there are far more similarities between cleaning sewage and finding that special someone than you may have expected.

Here are a few.
Don't be afraid to confront a dirty past.
This undated Cleveland Plain Dealer photo by Marv Greebe was taken sometime in the 1960s, showing former PD reporter Richard Ellers on a trip along the (to put it mildly) polluted Cuyahoga River.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

PIC: Mackenzie will soon be looking up at Lake Erie

Mackenzie's knocking on Lake Erie's door.

The tunnel boring machine that is digging our Euclid Creek Tunnel project—an 18,000-foot journey 200 feet under Cleveland's east side—is named Mackenzie. And in a few short weeks, the bed of Lake Erie will be 160 feet above her head.

The photo above marks the GPS-located position of the tunnel boring machine as of Monday. Moving from west to east (or left to right in the image) at a pace of 80 feet per day, Mackenzie should begin crossing under the lake bed within the next few weeks. The total length of the Euclid Creek Tunnel that will burrow beneath Lake Erie will be about 3,000 feet.

Friday, February 1, 2013

NEWS: Sewage is new source of ski resort snow in Arizona

Let it snow, let it snow, let it... flow?

Last month, an Arizona ski resort began making snow entirely from its most reliable water source: Water recycled from Flagstaff's sewage.

Wednesday's Bloomberg story reads:
The ski area near Flagstaff is the first in the U.S. to make snow entirely from treated effluent—something that could become more widespread as facilities across the country confront drought, future water restrictions and climate change.
In our line of work, all water is recycled, really.