Peek Inside a NEORSD Wastewater Treatment Plant

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As part of National Infrastructure Week, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is opening their doors to help the public better understand how wastewater is treated.  ideastream’s Anne Glausser toured the district’s Westerly wastewater treatment facilities.

Officials peeled back manhole covers and the like to unveil how the region deals with household and industrial wastewater as well as stormwater. "Really it’s an unknown world to most people and we wanted to show the benefits to what we do," said NEORSD's Superintendent of Maintenance Services Tom Madej.

Due to the historical sewage infrastructure here in Northeast Ohio, all of these varied waters mix in one combined piping system.  The sewer district treats well over 90 billion gallons of wastewater a year. But due to heavy rains that can overload the system, about 4.5 billion gallons a year gush untreated into rivers and Lake Erie.

The sewer district aims to bring that amount of untreated water down dramatically over the next two decades. That work has a $3 billion price tag, which means sewer rates have and will continue to go up.

Videos below are from the NEORSD's Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant and show how trash is filtered out during the beginning of the treatment process.  After trash has been removed, the water undergoes treatment by microbes as well as chemical processes like chlorination.  The remaining sludge, or biosolids, are incinerated, and the water is returned to our rivers and Lake Erie. 

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