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On June 28, Cleveland City Council officials took their questions underground when they met with the District to discuss the agency's current business, including Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO). The District provided officials, who were also representing the Council's Public Utilities Committee, with a tour of both the Mill Creek Tunnel and Westerly Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The tour, which began at the Mill Creek Tunnel, was coordinated and led by Environmental Education Specialist Linda Mayer-Mack and Director of Communications & Community Relations Constance Haqq. While a majority of the discussion surrounded CSO, Council leaders also expressed amazement in the tunnel itself. The size and extensive engineering alone, demonstrated to Officials that District is serious in its business - clean water.

Ward 1 Councilwoman Nina Turner said after the tour, "It was very enlightening. There is nothing like being down there." The Mill Creek Tunnel is located in Turner's ward. After the tunnel tour, the group was taken to Westerly where the District's Executive Director Erwin Odeal and Public Utilities Chair Matthew Zone headed a discussion aimed at educating the public about District business, including an increase in usage rates primarily caused by CSO and stormwater. Although Council leaders expressed their concerns about how their communities would be impacted, Odeal and Deputy Director of Engineering & Construction Frank Greenland provided them with solid reassurance that the District is intensely planning for the future.

"We welcome tours," said Odeal while in discussion with the Council, "They show the magnitude of what needs to be done."

After the conversation, Westerly Superintendent Terry Meister and Assistant Superintendents Ed Haller and Bill Norton, along with Westerly Shift Manager Sabrina Winkfield provided the group with a tour of Westerly wastewater treatment plant. The plant, which is located in Cleveland, treats approximately 33 million gallons daily. In addition, Westerly also contains a CSO facility where it can store up to six million gallons of overflow, and begin preliminary treatment on up to 300 million gallons a day.

Considering the positive response from Council leaders after both the tunnel and plant tours, it was made apparent that the tours' educational components were a success. Plans for another District-related Council tour are already underway and will be conducted later this fall.