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Cleveland Water launching $2 million project to prevent discolored water

Posted at 10:35 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 10:01:58-04

CLEVELAND — Cleveland Water is dropping millions of dollars to help prevent discolored water from Lake Erie due to decomposing algae at the bottom of the lake. The decomposing algae causes manganese-tainted water to reach the taps of some Cleveland Water Department customers, department officials said.

Kelly Butauski and Deborah Kramarz have been coming to Lake Erie for years, both part of environmental groups that help take care of and clean out the lake.

"Well, it's part of an ecosystem that reaches all the way from New York," Butauski said.

The Cleveland Water Department is also keeping an eye on the lake, watching for decomposing algae.

“Algae — when that sinks to the bottom of the lake, it decomposes, breaks down, it is consuming all the oxygen or almost all of the oxygen at the bottom of the lake," said Alex Margevicius, Commissioner of Cleveland Water. "That results in what's called hypoxia or hypoxic water,”

When a combination of events occurs, that hypoxic water can get pulled into the water intake, which feeds to customers' taps, causing discoloration.

“It has a yellowish or brownish tint to it,” said Margevicius.

Cleveland Water is starting a $2 million project that will prevent this from happening.

“Not only is it our job to deliver water that is safe, that is high quality, that is pleasing, but is also aesthetically pleasing,” said Margevicius.

The project will involve building a larger cage around the water intake in Lake Erie.

“We said, 'what if we build a ring tent or eight feet tall and place it on top of our existing crib so that this water that has the manganese in it can't get in?' It'll migrate around this new ring and the better water from up higher in the lake column will be the water that gets into the Nottingham plant,” said Margevicius.

The goal is to provide cleaner water while also helping the lake, which is exactly what Butauski and Kramarz want to see.

“I want to be able to go down — I won't in my lifetime — be able to go down there and get a drink of water right out of the lake. How’s that for a goal?” said Butauski.

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