Tag Archives: Lake Erie

Good Thing: Keeping Raw Sewage out of Lake Erie

Last week, the US EPA and Department of Justice announced a $3 billion settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) to help keep untreated raw sewage from flowing into Lake Erie.

A bit of background: the agency is considered in violation of the 1972 Clean Water Act because of the sewage overflows that sometimes happen during rainstorms. (You can read more about the mechanics and science of how and why this happens here.) Cleveland isn’t alone in this problem; a number of Great Lakes cities discharge billions of gallons in sewage every year.

You can read the announcement here and more history and information about the EPA’s case against NEORSD here. You can also read about “Project Clean Lake” from NEORSD here.

The EPA estimates NEORSD discharges almost five billion gallons of untreated, raw sewage

approximately 3,000 to 4,000 times per year into Lake Erie and nearby rivers. The settlement will require the sewer district to spend approximately $3 billion to install pollution controls, including the construction of seven tunnel systems ranging from two to five miles in length that will reduce the discharges of untreated, raw sewage to approximately 537 million gallons per year.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports in this interesting and helpful Q&A this will  unfortunately  likely mean higher sewer bills for Cleveland and surrounding communities, tripling bills over 25 years in order for the District to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act. However, the project is expected to generate jobs.

As we’ve reported before, sewage overflows are a serious problem for the Lakes. A study in August recommended Great Lakes cities 1) separate miles of combined sewer pipes into sanitary and storm sewers and 2) install “green” infrastructure — such as rain gardens, vegetated roofs and pervious pavement — to capture and cleans this storm water and reduce the volume of storm water flowing off the landscape.



Filed under Editorial, Good Ideas, Great Lakes, Green Jobs, regionalism

Is Your City ‘Water Sustainable?’

From The Nature Conservancy via the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

“Americans are collectively moving from the places that are best equipped to deal with climate change to those that are least equipped,” (a Nature conservancy blogger) writes.

The five cities at the bottom in water sustainability (Las Vegas, Phoenix and Mesa,  Tucson, and Los Angeles) grew by an average of 37 percent from 1990-2000.

But among the five most water-sustainable cities, only Chicago grew. The other four cloudy and water-rich towns Cleveland, Milwaukee, Detroit and New Orleans — all lost population.”

The article also has information about climate change impacting the Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie.


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Filed under Economic Development, Great Lakes, the environment

Photo Essay: Cleveland’s Lake Erie Surfers


These photos were taken by Cleveland-based photographer Billy Delfs. A little about the Cleveland Ohio Surfers in his words:

“Cleveland Ohio Surfers surf the shores of Lake Erie. From what I learned, unlike the west and east US coasts where the waves are pulled by currents, the wind is what makes up waves on Lake Erie. It is usually cold when they surf, windy and wet; either in a storm or just before the lake freezes over. They wear wet suits to keep warm, to make the situation tolerable. I was cold this day. They come back often when the waves are just right. Once I counted 15. Sometimes I’ll stop and park on top of the hill overlooking the water to watch them ride.”








For more information, check out www.outofplaceomovie.com.


Filed under Headline, Real Estate, The Big Urban Photography Project

More Problems For Lake Erie

It has been a summer of bad news for the Great Lakes:

-Asian Carp invasion.

-Increased climate change-driven warming, in Lake Superior and elsewhere.

-Sewage runoff problems.

Sorry to keep bringing you down, but here’s two more stories, both from The Toledo Blade. This one is about threats to the Lake Erie islands, and this is a detailed investigative piece about the algae blooms that have infested the Lake this summer.


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Filed under Great Lakes, the environment

Saving the Great Lakes from Sprawl: Balanced Growth Ohio

In the name of protecting water quality in Lake Erie and the state’s streams, the State of Ohio has developed a voluntary, incentive-based program for sustainable development.

Beautiful Lake Erie

Beautiful Lake Erie

It’s full of really good stuff, for example:

  • Identify priority development and conservation areas.
  • Offer incentives like density bonuses, streamlined review processes, and design flexibility for development in priority areas.
  • Evaluate existing zoning codes, review processes, and regulations for disincentives to desirable development practices, and set policy for correcting the disincentives.
  • Establish regulations that prohibit construction in the wetland and riparian setback area.
  • Encourage compact neighborhood development, historic preservation and infill development.

Someone I trust recently told me that the way to approach regionalism is through the lens of water quality. He said economic and tax sharing appeals were failing.

It’s good to see the state of Ohio is cognizant of these issues.

Here’s more on the program from Green City Blue Lake.



Filed under Headline, the environment, Urban Planning

Blog Spotlight: For All Things Legal and Great Lakes-Related

Check out the Great Lakes Law blog from The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center in Detroit.

Here, you can read information about how invasive species (Asian Carp), global climate change and more can impact the Great Lakes.


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Filed under regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, the environment, The Media

Ohio’s Lake Erie Shoreline Ranks Low in Water Quality

lake_erie_tocOhio’s water quality along Lake Erie received a failing grade in an annual report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Lake Erie beaches in the Buckeye State exceeded health standards only 19% of the time, just behind Indiana’s 18%, according to the report. Louisana came in a distant third with 29%.

The most common bacteria found floating in Ohio’s waters is E. Coli, according to the report.

Regional sewer district officials in Cleveland joined the NRDC and the Ohio Environmental Council and Environment Ohio at a news conference to announce the annual report yesterday at Edgewater Park on the shores of Lake Erie.


All this is from the Plain Dealer:

While the report blames storm water runoff as the most likely source of bacteria at Ohio beaches, regional sewer district officials pointed to another possible culprit — wildlife, especially geese, along the shoreline.

The District has voluntarily monitored local beaches for the last 16 years and is working with USGS officials to determine if geese droppings are affecting water quality at two of the worst beaches — Villa Angela and Euclid Beach,

Swimmers at two Northeast Ohio beaches – Huntington and Edgewater – can get water quality forecasts online daily at 9:30 a.m. or by calling 216-432-7301.

Swimmers at other beaches can also go online for reports on bacteria levels — but they are from the day prior.

Clearly, the $475 million designated for cleaning the Great Lakes by the Obama Administration is needed.

I’m also hopeful that the state of Ohio EPA’s mandate that Ohio communities separate their storm and sanitary sewers will have a positive impact on lake ecology.


Filed under Headline