142,600 Gallons of Sewage Spills Into Lake Erie Near Cleveland, Agency Says

May 29, 2019 Updated: May 29, 2019

At least 142,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Lake Erie following severe weather, said officials on May 29.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District issued the advisory for Edgewater beach following an overflow of sewage into the lake.

“This overflow discharged a combination of raw sewage and stormwater into Lake Erie during last night’s heavy rain event. Visitors (particularly children, the elderly and those in ill health) are advised to avoid contact with the water and debris,” the agency’s news release stated.

The Sewer District said that the region experienced a number of strong storms in the past several years and is an ongoing trend.

Lake Erie and Cleveland in a Google Maps image (Google Maps)

Director of Watershed Programs Frank Greenland said that combined sewer overflows, “along with flooding and streambank erosion, all impact water quality throughout our region Fortunately, the Sewer District is developing a regional solution to manage these sizeable issues and protect our region’s greatest natural resource: Lake Erie.”

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, citing weather officials, a round of severe storms slammed Cleveland on the evening on May 28, and more than 1 inch of rain fell in a few hours.

The Sewer District also posted a photo of what appears to be raw sewage in the water.

Warning signs for “poor” water quality were been posted along Edgewater Beach, Cleveland19 News reported.

The news release also said, “Since 1972, the Sewer District has reduced the volume of combined sewer overflows from 9 billion gallons to 4.5 billion gallons. Throughout the mid-1970s, the combined sewer outfall at Edgewater Beach discharged raw sewage into Lake Erie approximately 40 to 50 times per year. However, because of the Sewer District’s improvements to aging infrastructure, the Edgewater combined sewer overflow discharges have significantly decreased.”

It added that Project Clean Lake, a $3 billion plan, is aimed at reducing the amount of raw sewage entering Lake Erie and other nearby waterways.

“n addition to increased capacity at the Sewer District’s three wastewater treatment plants, Project Clean Lake will include the construction of large storage tunnels designed to capture combined sewage and convey it to a treatment plant for full treatment. The Sewer District currently has two tunnels in operation: Euclid Creek Tunnel’s flows are treated at the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant and Mill Creek Tunnel’s flows are treated at the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant,” the release said.

The Sewer District didn’t offer any more details about the incident.

The severe weather system that triggered the heavy rain also spawned a number of tornadoes in the Dayton, Ohio, area.

Gov. Mike DeWine issued a state of emergency following the aftermath of the storms. President Donald Trump also noted the damage, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

“@GovMikeDeWine just updated me on the devastation from the many tornadoes that struck Ohio early this morning. My Administration fully supports the people of the great State of Ohio as they begin the cleanup and recovery,” he wrote.