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NEWS: Mayans schmayans, here are 2013 predictions NE Ohioans can count on.

So we have survived the predictions of the apocalypse, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t important endings and beginnings to talk about.

Here are just a few of our more-certain 2013 predictions as we take a moment to prophesy:

Stormwater program will begin, problems will continue being addressed

As we have mentioned regularly on our blog, our regional stormwater management program officially begins January 1, 2013. The fees collected by this charge will address regional stream flooding, erosion, maintenance concerns, and water quality problems.

Our customer letters have generated great questions, and we anticipate these questions to increase as the first 2013 bills begin to include the new charge. The biggest questions so far relate to cost-saving credits for things like rain barrels and rain gardens, as well as whether community meetings will be available for customers.

If you have questions, you can email us, call Customer Service as (216) 881-8247, or tweet @neorsd.

New sewer rates will take effect, and cost-saving programs will be available

The new year will include a new rate structure, so you will see that on your first 2013 bill, too. In 2012, we began charging customers for actual water consumption, instead of charging a minimum fee, and that change benefited a large number of small users.

The upcoming rate change and the awareness of our stormwater program have prompted more customers to apply for our cost-saving programs. You should find out if any are right for you.

New renewable-energy facility will be green and clean

Set to open in 2013, our Renewable Energy Facility will be the home of a state-of-the-art incineration process at the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Center in Cuyahoga Heights. Not only will it burn the treatment process’ solid waste, but it will do so more efficiently than our current incinerators. It will save money, save electricity, and reduce greenhouse emissions.

It will save us $1 million annually by consuming less natural gas, and a steam-powered turbine will generate 25 percent of the entire plant’s power needs—another annual savings of $1-2 million.

Huge amount of construction will continue as we reduce bacteria in Lake Erie

Project Clean Lake is a 25-year program to reduce combined sewer overflows in Lake Erie. Our biggest project currently is our Euclid Creek Tunnel, and 18,000-foot-long 24-foot-wide sewer tunnel 200 feet underground. As of this month, the huge tunnel boring machine has mined more than 2,800 feet as it burrows its way toward the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Cleveland.

Euclid Creek Tunnel construction will continue into 2015.

Beach monitoring will help more beach-goers prepare wisely

We have conducted an extensive beach monitoring program for many years, and that will continue in 2013 as we watch bacteria-level trends along the lakefront.

We were proud to participate in a press conference this summer with the Natural Resources Defense Council regarding beach water quality. Our beaches are challenged, but our monitoring program helps us stay on top of the factors that affect bacteria levels. It also contributes to a daily beach report to inform beach-goers of the water quality at their destination.