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WATCH: Appreciating clean-water history, future is all about keeping it real

We know it’s gross, but it’s true!

One hundred years ago, the earliest Cleveland sewers were designed to do little more than carry sewage away from the city, discharging it untreated directly into Lake Erie.

Untreated. Right into Lake Erie.

It wasn’t until around 1920 that any kind of wastewater treatment began taking shape at the points where sewers met the Cleveland shoreline. And even into the 1960s, pollution and a lack of regulation plagued water quality, until everything changed in 1969.

Besides the shock of hearing gramps say the word “poop,” Billy’s reaction in the video is common to what we often hear when we talk about the history of clean water in our region. The work it takes to transport wastewater and treat it safely is complicated and costly, but critical. Appreciating our “sewer history” makes the current challenges clearer and opportunities more exciting.


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