CLEVELAND (WJW) – Once again Edgewater Beach is closed as of Sunday morning due to high bacteria levels according to information posted on the Northeast Ohio Sewer Districts’ website.
Two to three inches of rapid rainfall triggered the discharge of a combination of sewage and stormwater into Lake Erie, leading to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s (NORSD) advisory asking children, the elderly and those in ill health to avoid contact with the water and wood debris.
Signs had been posted all along the beach to warn visitors Saturday.
“The sewer, something like overflows and a bunch of fecal matter gets in the water,” Edgewater Beach regular Lisa Barto said. “So, I typically, never even when there’s not an alert, I don’t go in above my knees because it freaks me out.”
Collin Bensinger and his five-year-old daughter had no idea there was an advisory before making the trip from Cuyahoga Falls.
“I’m sure it happens a lot when the rain is heavy,” Bensinger said. “This is a pretty nice, sandy beach in the area. You would think or hope that the water would be clean, but apparently not.”
This is the second time this month that an advisory has been issued, but it’s not the only issue created by heavy rainfall on an aging infrastructure.
Ward 16 Cleveland City Council member Brian Kazy’s street flooded a couple of days ago from heavy rains due to a clogged catch basin, so he took matters into his own hands to clear the blockage.
“Our system is over 100 years old,” Kazy said. “So, there’s a lot of places in the city that can’t handle, when the infrastructure was put in, it can’t handle the amount of water, the amount of rain that we’re getting recently, at least in the last week.”
Kazy said between both the NORSD and Cleveland Water Pollution Control, there needs to be a more advanced system that can handle heavy rains.
“We need to figure out how to step that up so that things like raw sewage ending up in our lake doesn’t occur often,” Kazy said.
NORSD has a $3 billion, 25-year investment program called Project Clean Lake in place since 2011. It aims to reduce sewer overflow from 4.5 billion gallons to 500 million by 2036.
Sewer District crews will sample the water twice daily at 10 different locations along Edgewater Beach. Once those samples are below federal and state advisory levels, the advisory will be lifted.
“It’d be nice to have better signage, and a plan for the future, right? People come here, so it would be nice for them to say it’ll clear out in a day, two days, five days, and here’s the long-term plan,” Bensinger said.
But the advisory didn’t deter many people from enjoying a day along the beach, sunbathing and hanging out with friends.
“I’m not the type that says, ‘Ew, I don’t want to go in the lake.’ I’ll jump in the lake. I don’t really care,” Strongsville resident Jacob Prast said. “I do know there are concern for other people, so I do understand the reasoning, and there are health issues and all that. If the city can improve this, you know, that would be great for the community.”