If you enjoy swimming and recreating in Lake Erie over the hot summer months, the Ohio Department of Health has consolidated swim advisory information onto one website: http://publicapps.odh.ohio.gov/BeachGuardPublic/Default.aspx. You can now find out if there are high bacteria counts and if there are unsafe toxic algae levels on this one website.
Why are we having water quality problems regionally?
Living next to a natural wonder like Lake Erie is one of Cleveland's greatest assets. Yet, high bacteria levels on some of Lake Erie's beaches like Euclid Creek's Euclid Beach and Villa Angela, continue to impact public perception about the safety of swimming at these beaches. Both have been listed on the “Repeat Offenders” list of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who compiles data on beach conditions annually in the Great Lakes. This has led to studies assessing where these high bacteria levels are coming from. Combined sanitary and sewer overflows, polluted stormwater runoff, and waterfowl waste/bird droppings are a few sources that are further complicated by lake currents and weather conditions.
What is being done to help our water quality locally?
While there is much education happening recommending that residents clean up pet waste, fix automobile fluid leaks and reduce use of fertilizers contributing to algae blooms, there are also largescale efforts underway to alleviate the problem.
The largest effort to improve water quality is being led by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) with the recent completion of the Euclid Creek Tunnel project. This massive $204 million tunnel was recently completed and will serve as a storage facility for flood waters during heavy rain events so sewage does not enter the Euclid Creek and Lake Erie in the project area. These overflows happen more than 60 times a year as is evidenced by the high number of water quality advisories. So reducing the number of sewage overflows to less than 3 a year will dramatically help water quality in Lake Erie.
The Euclid Creek Tunnel is the first of a series of storage tunnels to be complete as part of NEORSD's Project Clean Lake, a 25-year, $3 billion program to reduce the amount of sewage entering local waterways. Overall, once the 25-year program is complete, 4 billion gallons of pollution entering our waterways will be reduced annually.
Where can I find more information:
To learn more about beach safety, click here to read the full article.
To learn more about NEORSD's Project Clean Lake, click here.
Blog author: Claire Posius, Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator