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Monday, March 31, 2014

BASEBALL: Drain delay as sewer backups, storms at Oakland Coliseum wash out exhibition game

Image via

Maybe they should move the tarp from the field in Oakland into the clubhouse bathrooms.

In an endless flow of opportunities to connect clean-water news to current events, today we take you to Oakland, California where the Cleveland Indians will open the 2014 season against the Oakland A's tonight.

Oakland Coliseum plumbing has affected the home clubhouse in the past, and it happened again this weekend as toilets and drains backed up before an exhibition game against the San Francisco Giants. One of the A's coaches caught it on video.

The backups occurred as a result of heavy rains, as reported by USA Today, streaming water into the facility where it shouldn't be.

While not exactly the same, it sounds similar to the situation older cities face thanks to combined sewers—large pipes that collect sewage and stormwater in the same pipe.

In heavy rains, combined sewers reach capacity and have to find relief points, and in Cleveland, those relief points are called combined sewer overflows. We have a 25-year plan underway that will increase the sewer system's storage and treatment capacity to eliminate the need for overflows, which—to maintain the sports analogy—is a winning game plan.

There could be a number of reasons why the Coliseum's plumbing couldn't handle the flow, but the story lends truth to the belief that "sports is a microcosm of life." At least this sports headline is a microcosm of the country's infrastructure issues.

Thanks for sharing, Emily.

Friday, March 28, 2014

#neorsdGREEN: 4 cities making green part of the plan, and we're one of them.

As the country has turned its attention to green solutions to infrastructure challenges in recent years, there are cities and regions whose green work is already underway and blazing a trail others can follow.

In a new document released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Northeast Ohio is one of them.

San Francisco, Toledo, Cincinnati, and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District are four agencies who have incorporated green into their combined sewer overflow (CSO) control plans, and our efforts were highlighted as an example other cities might consider when planning to solve similar problems.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

#DogsCantFlush: Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but no, Santa Cruz, there is no poop fairy.

We're partial to our #DogsCantFlush campaign encouraging dog owners to pick up poop, but we tip our hat to the city of Santa Cruz for the creativity behind theirs.

Photo by mobileranger. Read the full post at Santa Cruz Waves.

Thanks to Adam for sharing the link.

VIDEO: This guy kayaks into a DC sewer tunnel. It's educational, but don't try it at home.

This 8-minute video by EarthEcho International—featuring underground construction and a kayaking expedition into the bowels of a combined sewer—highlights the water-quality challenges of Washington, DC and what DC Water is doing about it.

Why is it relevant to Cleveland? It's a tale that reflects the same obstacles and solutions we face in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio:
Could be a good resource for educators or community groups. But we don't advise kayaking into combined sewer outfalls, so keep that in mind.

Friday, March 21, 2014

NEWS: Sewer District, ODOT partner on green infrastructure to mitigate Opportunity Corridor’s stormwater impacts

Agreement with ODOT to provide Sewer District with $650,000 to fund green infrastructure projects throughout Doan Brook, nearby watersheds

A groundbreaking agreement between the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the Ohio Department of Transportation will fund hundreds of thousands of dollars in green infrastructure grants to address stormwater impacts associated with the Opportunity Corridor construction.

Sewer District Trustees approved a resolution yesterday authorizing it to enter into an agreement with ODOT which includes a $650,000 payment to enable the Sewer District to establish a new Green Infrastructure Grants Program.

PIC: "Water bear" sounds cuddly, actually is pretty terrifying.

A color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph of a water bear. Image: Eye of Science/Science Source

Billions of nearly indestructible microscopic organisms capable of surviving the extremes of outer space, freezing temperatures, and radiation.

Sleep tight.

Wired recently ran a great story about the water bear, scientifically known as the tardigrade, a creature found all around the world under our feet. Why are these little guys so interesting? A biologist puts it pretty bluntly.
“They are probably the most extreme survivors that we know of among animals,” said biologist Bob Goldstein of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “People talk about cockroaches surviving anything. I think long after the cockroaches would be killed we’d still have dried water bears that could be rehydrated and be alive.”
Yes, rehydrated. So they're not really dead-brought-back-to-life, but more like living in a state of almost suspended animation called cryptobiosis.

We have a fondness for this little guy ourselves as we find him quite often in our wastewater analysis. Water bears indicate the age of sludge—the solid biological material collected during the wastewater treatment process. He's one of many creepy-crawlies we find that help us know if we are doing our jobs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CHILDREN: New Sesame Street muppet stands up for health, sanitation, education

Photo by John Barrett. Posted by Sesame Workshop 2014.

Sesame Street's newest muppet, Raya, is six years old. She's aqua green with sandals on her feet. She has a fantastic memory.

She also knows the health challenges children her age face in countries like Bangladesh, India and Nigeria.

In the Gates Foundation's efforts to "engage children with important messages surrounding proper latrine use and sanitation," Raya and Sesame Workshop are the latest foundation partners in education, according to USA Today.

As attention is turned to the clean-water and sanitation challenges of more than one billion people around the world, it is important to be creative in communicating these difficult realities. We believe this is a great idea, and it kicked off in a "Cleaner, Happier, Healthier" campaign starring Raya and Elmo.

NEWS: Multi-year project will expand treatment capacity by 70 million gallons

In 2013, Lakeshore Boulevard residents and passers-by witnessed a significant amount of construction activity related to our Project Clean Lake consent decree.

The commotion will not end anytime soon. Several new projects at Easterly begin this month, “as soon as the weather breaks,” according to Construction Program Manager Doug Gabriel.

The largest of these projects are the Easterly Secondary System Improvements (ESSI, red area on map above). To increase the plant’s capacity for processing wastewater—from 330 million gallons per day to 400 million gallons—six additional settling tanks will be installed, seen as black circles on the map.

#CIFF38: Silence your phones during the movie, and don't tweet from the bathroom.

The Cleveland International Film Festival returns today, and with 93,000+ admissions last year, we know all sorts of eyes will be focused on our city—and thousands of visitors will be making bathroom breaks between flicks.

That means "Lights, camera, action!" when it comes to some clean-water communication.

This is the third year we are sponsoring the CIFF, branding restrooms and stalls at Tower City Cinemas to help educate visitors in the form of a public service announcement.

#WaitToTweet made its debut at last year's CIFF and the message remains the same this year: We remind people that dropping a phone in the toilet is an all-too-common occurrence, and we suggest people think twice before tweeting from the stall. The message connects guests' everyday actions with the everyday work of wastewater treatment that rarely crosses minds.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

VIDEO: And you thought you'd never be interested in how a pump station works.

For most people, wastewater treatment just happens. It's not something many think about.

One thing we've enjoyed on our social media channels is the ability to bring the real-world work behind cleaning dirty water right in front of people's eyes. Sure, we're biased, but we think it's amazing, and it affects the lives all of us live.

Here's a 45-second example. Wastewater Plant Operator Christen Wood shows us what a lift station is and how it makes our treatment process work at our Southerly plant. It's the first in a new series we're launching called "Quick Clips."

Monday, March 17, 2014

WORLD WATER DAY: The value of clean water, made personal.

A young resident of Maslakh camp (Afghanistan) takes a drink of water. UN Photo/E. Debebe

Flush. Don't think twice about it.

Turn the tap. No big deal.

Start the laundry, fill your tub, wash you hands, whatever. It's just water.

The simple fact that we can consider a precious resource and the complex system it takes to bring it to and from our homes safely "no big deal" is exactly why World Water Day March 22 should be a very big deal.

What is World Water Day? World Water Day, established by the United Nations in 1993, was originally launched to promote to the importance of fresh water and bring attention to water-resource management and sanitation challenges around the world.

We are proud to support WWD programs that help residents understand how Cleveland's urban water cycle works and relate it to the water-quality realities and struggles that still exist today.

Two local World Water Day celebrations include Drink Local. Drink Tap.'s Wavemaker Program students' trip to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium March 20, and Cleveland Metroparks' "Go Global" festivities at the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek March 22.

Consider the West Virgina chemical spill that knocked out water supplies for weeks. Imagine the need to trek for clean water for yourself or your family from a distant source miles away. Sometimes making it personal makes a difference.

There are countless ways to make World Water Day inspirational. Communicate, educate, donate, however you choose to support the cause, it's not to late.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

GREEN: St. Patrick's Day and 5 stories of green with Cuyahoga River connections

Our mighty Cuyahoga has never received the full Chicago River green-dye treatment, but it has some green tales to tell.

Here are five interesting stories you may not have heard.

5. The Cuyahoga River was dyed green in 2008. Mysteriously.
In January of that year, the City of Akron discovered a green dye in the Cuyahoga River near their wastewater treatment plant. The plant said they were not responsible for the dye, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency investigated the discovery. No information was available about the official source of the dye.

Friday, March 14, 2014

QUIZ: Which tunnel boring machine are you?

So Buzzfeed won't create our buzzquiz ideas. No biggie. We made our own. Just scroll down and click "Let's Play!" to get started.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

HEROES: Could these superheroes' alter egos have found better career options?

As Marvel Studios' "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" release date edges closer and closer—an event in which we hold particular interest—we've got superheroes on the brain.

Of course, Captain America's alter ego was Steve Rogers, whose comic book origins state he was a fine arts student and budding illustrator. If he hadn't become Cap, what might his career options have been?

We considered the same question for several other comic book classics, and wondered if they could have found a place in the clean-water industry. Here were a few ideas, and the list is certainly far from all-inclusive.

COMICS: Information from Masked Heroes

Saturday, March 8, 2014

LIST: 8 BuzzFeed quizzes you'll probably never see

I can't believe how these things have taken off. BuzzFeed quizzes.

Which Willy Wonka character are you? Which bagel are you? What should your college major actually be?

BuzzFeed quizzes are all the rage. But while their topics really do run the gamut, we came up with eight you'll probably never see but we'd totally want to.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PHOTO: Safety first, top hats are a priority.

Quite dapper for a sewer tunnel tour, no?

These gents were friends of English civil engineer Joseph Bazalgette attending a tour of the main drainage works of his new London Sewage System in 1862.

Tours of anything similar today are accompanied by hard hats rather than top hats, but historical images like this do convey the significance of these infrastructural achievements.

Huzzah, ol' boy!