CLEVELAND — Edgewater is a great place to escape to get some work done on a nice day, but for Eric and Hannah of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, it was their office on Tuesday morning and will be for members of their team for the better part of the next three and a half months.
"We collect samples every single day, so seven days a week at about 7 in the morning from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” said Hannah Boesinger, Environmental Compliance Inspector with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.
The daily wade into the water at Edgewater and at Villa Angela Beach includes not only collecting a sample of it to test for bacteria e-coli in the water that can make it unsafe to swim, but because those lab results take 24 hours to come back, Field Biologist Eric Soehnlen says they're also measuring other things that give them an early glimpse of what the results will be.
"So while it will take us 24 hours to get that result, but just like people predict the weather, we're predicting what the water quality is using other parameters like wave height, PH, conductivity in the water and how much rain we've had recently, because that can impact water quality as well,” said Soehnlen.
The Sewer District is addressing that front through Project Clean Lake, the $3 billion series of seven underground tunnels that store runoff in a storm so it doesn't flow untreated into the lake. In the 70s, an estimated 9 billion gallons of untreated runoff ran into the lake each year. Once the project is complete that will be reduced to about a half-billion gallons.
Soehnlen says there are cheaper ways that lowering levels is accomplished. When you see crews raking the sand, they’re not just doing it for aesthetics.
"They turn that sand over and then the sunlight can kill that bacteria and that improves the water quality," Soehnlen said.