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A timeline of people, programs, and progress

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District history 1969-2021


Cuyahoga River fire on June 22 focuses national attention on Cleveland’s pollution problems.

August 1969 issue of TIME Magazine features the Cuyahoga River fire as the first article in a new environment column.


Congress passes the National Environmental Policy Act.

Ohio Water Pollution Control Board (predecessor of the Ohio EPA) files a court action against the City of Cleveland claiming inadequate and improper disposal of wastewater.


Suburbs, concerned about pending sewer rate hikes, join in the suit against Cleveland.


Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments (which will lead to the 1977 Clean Water Act) pass to improve water quality.

Ohio EPA established.

United States and Canada sign the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Judge George J. McMonagle’s April 4 court order outlines the formation of the Cleveland Regional Sewer District (CRSD).

Bonds sold for $29.8 million to purchase three treatment plants and large interceptor sewers.

First CRSD Board of Trustees’ meeting is held in July.

Sewer District takes control of three wastewater treatment plants: Easterly (originally built in 1922, but some preliminary testing and screening at this location dates back to 1908), Southerly (built in 1928), and Westerly (built in 1922).


District receives first federal construction grant.

Construction of Northwest Interceptor begins.


District takes over Sewer Control and Industrial Waste departments from City of Cleveland, as well as operation of Beech Hill, Bonnieview, and Wilson Mills pump stations.

President Ford signs the bill creating the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.

Congress passes the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Ground is broken for the new Westerly wastewater treatment facility, designed to be the “largest physical-chemical treatment center in the world.”


District’s combined sewer overflow (CSO) control system is monitored and operated by a “computer-based real-time data-acquisition system” for the first time.

District assumes control of Laboratory Services at 3090 Broadway Avenue.

First bond sale of $33 million.


Cuyahoga Valley Interceptor construction begins. The 22-mile-long interceptor carries flow to Southerly upon completion in 1984.

Clean Water Act


$118.5 million bond sale.

First Regional Plan for Sewerage and Drainage (RPSD) study identifies 138 storm drainage problem locations across the region.


Cleveland Regional Sewer District officially becomes the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.


Cuyahoga Valley Interceptor accepts first flow.


District begins development of first Computerized Maintenance Management System.

Northwest Interceptor becomes fully operational.


Major construction of Westerly Wastewater Treatment Center’s physical-chemical process completed.


Construction begins on Heights/Hilltop and Southwest Interceptors.

Administration office purchase and renovation.

Ohio EPA approves our Pre-treatment Program.


Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement is revised, requiring the development of Remedial Action Plans in polluted areas. The Cleveland Harbor in the shipping channel of the Cuyahoga River is one of 43 areas of concern.


District adopts Title 3 Separate Sanitary Sewer Code.

District begins operating the Berea Wastewater Treatment Plant.


Construction of Environmental & Maintenance Services Center begins in Cuyahoga Heights.

Computerized Maintenance Management System goes online.


Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization formed to help with the Remedial Action Plan.


District receives its last federal construction grant.

Heights/Hilltop Interceptor accepts first flow.

$13.5 million Environmental & Maintenance Services Center opens in Cuyahoga Heights.


First intercommunity relief sewer, Pearl Road, accepts flow.


Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan Stage One Report released, summarizing existing pollution problems and sources.


The Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath opens in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. The trail parallels 22 miles of the Cuyahoga River.

Conversion of Westerly plant from physical-chemical treatment process to biological process begins.


An Ohio EPA survey of the Cuyahoga tributaries shows improving trends in chemical water quality and biological health.

Southwest Interceptor completed.

Construction of Easterly’s three sludge storage tanks, a pumping facility, and a new sludge force main to Southerly (replacing one from 1938) begins.


District begins two-year study focusing on pollution sources in the Mill Creek area.

District puts Westerly’s new and improved biological treatment process online.


Competitiveness Initiatives, focused on cross-training and employee development, begin.


Second Regional Plan for Sewerage and Drainage (RPSD) study identifies 334 storm drainage problem locations, twice as many as were identified in 1978.


A 12-hour operator shift replaces the 8-hour shift. Operators favor the switch by a 2-1 margin and the change is formally adopted in 2002.


Regional Intercommunity Drainage Evaluation (RIDE) study is complete, defining a 522-mile intercommunity regional stream network. Within it, 586 problems across 328 locations. This study would become the foundation of the eventual Regional Stormwater Management Program.


George J. McMonagle Administration Building, dedicated to the judge whose order first established the Regional Sewer District, opens to employees.


District launches its first Internet homepage.


Westerly’s new outfall conduit, extending 4,750 feet into Lake Erie, is placed into service.

Communications & Community Relations department is created in an effort to better serve and connect with residents.


Board gives approval to promote stormwater management.

Erwin Odeal retires after 24 years as Director and Executive Director and 33 years with the District.

Julius Ciaccia becomes Executive Director, the fourth director in the District’s 35-year history.


The District adopts ethics policy, safeguarding against conflicts of interest and improper conduct

District leads a collaborative effort with local agencies to implement a “nowcast” beach advisory system.


“Year of the River” marks 40th anniversary of the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga.

Construction of Southerly’ Renewable Energy Facility (REF) begins. The REF is a state-of-the-art combination of fluidized bed incinerators whose heat generates steam and spins a turbine capable of supplying 25% of the plant’s electrical needs.

District implements Wellness Program for a healthier workforce.

Small Business Enterprise program (renamed Business Opportunity Program in 2011) offers local companies more opportunities to compete for District work.


Trustees adopt the Regional Stormwater Management Program with a 7-0 vote and the Project Clean Lake consent decree with a 5-2 vote.


Groundbreaking of $198-million Euclid Creek Tunnel launches 25-year Project Clean Lake program.

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas J. Pokorny rules that the District has the authority to implement the majority of its Regional Stormwater Management Program.


“Mackenzie,” a 1,500-ton tunnel boring machine, is lowered into the ground to begin digging the Euclid Creek Tunnel.


The District and Cleveland Metroparks celebrate the dedication of the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek in Parma. The District also purchases beach-cleaning machines for Metroparks-operated Euclid Beach and Edgewater Park.

Mackenzie completes her three-mile Euclid Creek Tunnel excavation.

The Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals strikes down the District’s Stormwater program.

Southerly’s Renewable Energy Facility is completed.

Significant construction begins for improvements to attain Project Clean Lake mandates. Easterly becomes the first of our treatment plants to begin making Project Clean Lake improvements because of the major tunnels being constructed in Easterly’s service area that will affect Easterly’s flow volumes.


Good Neighbor Ambassador outreach program ensures residents’ involvement before, during, and after construction in their neighborhoods.

The District launches new internal and external Customer Service initiatives to support its mission.

Trustees approve title changes for the Board-appointed members of the Leadership Team: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Legal Officer, and Chief Financial Officer.


The “Year of Clean Water” promotes importance of clean water to the region.

District recognized as a “Top Workplace” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and NorthCoast 99.

Ohio Supreme Court gives final OK to District stormwater program and fee.

Euclid Creek Tunnel is completed $3.6 million under budget.

Dugway Storage Tunnel construction begins.

Southerly REF earns LEED Gold Certification.

District welcomes the public to its first “Sewer University” lecture.

Westerly tests a chemically enhanced high-rate treatment (CEHRT) processes to provide new treatment and disinfection capabilities.


Dedication of renovated Public Square, featuring green infrastructure to manage stormwater.

The Board selects Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells to become CEO of the Sewer District.


District establishes Member Community Infrastructure Program to fund local sewer projects that benefit regional water quality and protect public health.

District recognized as Bike Friendly by League of American Bicyclists


Dugway Storage Tunnel mining complete.

$135 million Westerly Storage Tunnel breaks ground.

Incinerator ash begins being sustainably reused in soil and concrete blends (Kurtz Brothers partnership), reducing landfill impacts and greenhouse gas emissions.


50th anniversary of the 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, commemorated with a year of celebration River Reborn


Doan Valley Tunnel construction begins

Dugway Storage Tunnel complete $4.6 million under budget.

NEORSD contributes samples to innovative statewide database analyzing wastewater during COVID-19 pandemic.

Consent decree pollution-control program is amended in this its tenth year, a modification that will enhance plant operations, improve water quality, and save customers money in the long run.


Westerly Storage Tunnel mining complete.

District releases first ever Sustainability Plan.

Doan Valley Tunnel goes online.