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Several decades ago, the lower Cuyahoga River was so polluted that few fish could survive in it. Since then, the water quality of the river has improved dramatically. The Sewer District has played a crucial role in this remarkable recovery.

During this period, the District's Southerly facility, which treats wastewater before it flows into the river, was upgraded and has been efficiently operated. Among the upgrades were the addition of nitrification to remove ammonia and dechlorination to remove residual chlorine. Both ammonia and residual chlorine can be toxic to aquatic organisms like fish. Also, the District's pretreatment program to control industrial discharges into the sewer system has been enforcing increasingly stringent regulations. This has resulted in much lower amounts of toxic chemicals entering, passing through, and/or potentially interfering with treatment at the Southerly facility. Further improvement in the river's water quality is attributable to the District's construction of intercepting sewers to collect and route sewage to District facilities where the most effective treatment can be provided.

The Cuyahoga River's improvement in water quality has been reflected in the numbers and types of its fish. Since 1990, the District's Water Quality & Industrial Surveillance department has been monitoring these fish and, in 2004, the District's crews found the healthiest fish community that has yet been seen in the river downstream of the Southerly facility. A Cleveland Plain Dealer report on this finding may be viewed by clicking here.

The District continues to improve the quality of life in the community that it serves.