Edgewater Park Sewer Tour

Blog Date
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

Wearing safety gear for Edgewater Park sewer tour
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Thank you to The City Club and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) for the Tuesday, October 11, 2022, "... unique tour inside NEORSD’s sewer system at Edgewater Beach." The following is about the sewer tour, along with additional information about NEORSD and its water outfall near Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Beach.



Announcement of Sewer Tour

50 Years of Clean Water Investment
Take a unique tour inside NEORSD’s sewer system at Edgewater Beach

Tuesday, October 11, 2022
4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Arrive by 3:45pm / Tour Begins 4:00pm

Protecting our water resources through wastewater treatment and stormwater management has evolved over the last century with many systems in the nation over 100 years old.

With the signing of President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, drinking water issues in Jackson, Mississippi, and the dramatic loss of drinking water and sewer service during Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, the need for sufficient and sustained infrastructure funding is once again front and center. Locally, investment in the region’s wastewater and stormwater systems by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) has been ongoing for the last 50 years. To date, NEORSD has spent over $5 billion to protect water quality in Lake Erie and its tributaries.

Join the City Club and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District on Tuesday, October 11, 2022 from 4:00pm to 5:30pm for a unique and informative tour of the century old combined sewer at Edgewater Beach. Participants will have the opportunity to walk inside the sewer and learn about NEORSD’s historical investments that resulted in a cleaner Lake Erie and Cuyahoga River, just to name a few, and learn about the future investment plans for our region’s clean water infrastructure.

This tour is limited to 20 participants and is weather-dependent.

Important Safety Information: This is a confined space. Attendees will be required to participate in a brief confined space training on-site the day of the event. Additionally, attendees will be required to wear rescue wristlets, a hard hat, safety glasses, and gloves. Close-toed shoes with a substantial, slip-resistant sole (such as hiking boots or garden boots), and long pants are required. Because the sewer pipe is narrow, participants will tour the sewer pipe in small groups.

I am so glad that I saw @TheCityClub's September 27th morning tweet, so I could sign up to be one of the 20 participants for the Tuesday, October 11, 2022, tour of the sewer system near the Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Beach. I asked other family members if they wanted to join me, but for some reason they were not interested, as I described the tour as requiring "confined space training" to enter an active sewer system -- where was their adventuresome spirit?!?

To me, attending a sewer tour was a logical endeavor, since I am interested in infrastructure that makes a city's safe water system possible. I have already written four "Water Treatment" blog posts which are listed below in the "Related Blog Posts" section at the bottom of this blog post.

Also, as a person who does backpacking, I have a great appreciation for finding good drinking water sources. (Actually, I was only in town September 26 - October 11 and was able to learn about and attend the sewer tour because my Appalachian Trail trip was canceled unexpectedly.) This appreciation for water first developed through my years of camping on the Appalachian Trail, but my appreciation of the water is even stronger now, since I have backpacked the desert sections, starting at the Mexico border, of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019, and the Continental Divide Trail in 2022. Even with the abundance of water in Cleveland's Lake Erie, I never take clean, safe water for granted.




August Tweets & Articles about Sewer Overflows at Edgewater Beach Outfall

. . . overflow used to discharge 40-50 times a year back in the 1970s. it now discharges *once a year* on average as a result of decades of progress.

that's not to say we don't want to do more. that's not saying we're satisfied. it's saying progress is possible & achievable.

I started writing this blog post even before going on the sewer tour, by doing some advance research. I did a search on Twitter for "@neorsd edgewater beach" to find information about two 2022 overflow events at the Edgewater Beach area, which were the first since August 8, 2021. They took place on August 9, 2022, and August 30, 2022, which were just one and one-half to two months before The City Club sewer tour at Edgewater Beach.

Here are some of the tweets I found, explaining how NEORSD's Project Clean Lake has reduced sewage entering Lake Erie and other area waterways:

Here are some of the 15 tweets from August 9, 2022 -- click on any one of the following @NEORSD tweets to see them all:


August 30, 2022, @NEORSD overflows at our Edgewater Beach outfall tweets:


Note how the following August 30, 2022, tweet links you back to the August 9, 2022 tweets:


I also found the following two NEORSD articles about overflows at Edgewater Beach that also both happened to be in the month of August -- 2018 and 2019:



Monday, October, 2022, the Night Before the Sewer Tour

Thanks, @TheCityClub !

I appreciate you hosting "50 Years of Clean Water Investment" tour on Tuesday . . .

I look forward to learning about @NEORSD :

* Project Clean Lake: . . .

* CSO control: . . .

The night before the sewer tour, I read some interesting articles, tweets, and listened to a @NEORSD Twitter Spaces conversation (i.e., a Twitter podcast). I found these items interesting, and I hope you will share them by retweeting or creating your own tweets to share:


Tweets from September 17, 2022, #CleanWaterFest -- be sure to listen to How water gets tweeted: @neorsd talks to @TheCityClub.


Be sure to follow on Twitter @NEORSDbeaches to read NEORSD beach reports like these!



... gigantic sewer flap gate—weighing more than 1000 pounds—was blown off its hinges during a storm in 1992. . . . Eric’s story is one that has long lived in District lore, but as preserved and proven in our archives, the story is more than legend.

The night before the sewer tour, this interesting story about an NEORSD employee, Eric, who was a scuba diver, was shared on Twitter. Read and share by retweeting the following tweets about how the Edgewater Beach sewer overflow flap gate was found by Eric:


Great to have my assumption confirmed -- Yes, the gate I have seen at Edgewater Beach is pushed open by just by the force created by the water pressure!



Tuesday, October 11, 2022 - Biking at Edgewater Park Before Sewer Tour

Water, water, water!!! Lake Erie view from Edgewater Park
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One of Cleveland's best known trees -- Weeping Willow tree at Edgewater Park
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Cleveland Metroparks provides over 100 miles of shared-use, paved, all purpose trails for cycling, walking, running and in-line skating. . . . . The all purpose trails also link to many neighboring community trails, allowing greater access to the parks for all types of trail users.

The 147 acre Edgewater Park is the westernmost park in Cleveland Metroparks Lakefront Reservation. Edgewater Park features 9000 feet of shoreline, dog and swim beaches, boat ramps, fishing pier, picnic areas and grills and a rentable pavilion.

Consists of 240 acres that includes Edgewater Beach, Perkins Beach, the Marina and Yacht Club. The new and improved roundabout entrance and Cleveland Lakefront Bikeway allow easy access to the area.

I arrived early, before the NEORSD Sewer Tour, which was a great decision on my part, since it allowed me to first have an enjoyable bike ride around the Cleveland Metroparks Edgewater Park. I was also able to go down to the sewer entrance early to watch the NEORSD staff set up for the tour.


NEORSD trucks have arrived.



One of the best photo spots in Cleveland. Whether selfie or group pic, give us a grin and tag your shot with #ThisisCLE on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

You've seen them in your social media feeds, you see them on TV and you see them proudly displayed in publications both locally and nationally. We're talking about those Cleveland script signs and their scenic backdrops, which offer some of the best group photo ops in The Land.

The signs are a creation of Destination Cleveland, which installed the original three signs in 2016. Today, Cleveland boasts six signs that remain just as popular as when we unveiled them.

So, grab some friends and head to one of these signs to upgrade your FB cover photo. And, while you're at it, be sure to tag those friends who never visit while using the hashtag #ThisisCLE.
. . .
Edgewater Park
6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, Cleveland, OH 44102
The script sign at Edgewater Park welcomes its visitors before they even make their way down to the beach area. Depending on the season, there are usually a lot of things happening at the park - from beaching and boating to wintertime surfing and sledding. This spot is popular for early sunrise photos, and great for anyone who wants a picture that combines the city and Lake Erie.

The Cleveland Script Sign!



Tuesday, October 11, 2022 - The Day of the Sewer Tour!!

Thank you for registering to attend the 50 Years of Clean Water Investment event being held on Tuesday, October 11th!  We are looking forward to having you join us!
Please note that we have received an overwhelming response to this event and have since started a waitlist. . . .

. . . The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the City Club of Cleveland are excited for your upcoming tour of the century’s old Edgewater combined sewer at Edgewater Beach. . . .

  • You will be required to participate in a 15-minute confined space training. . . .
  • Participants are REQUIRED attendees to wear rescue wristlets, a hard hat, safety glasses, and gloves.  These items will be provided by the Sewer District.  Close-toed shoes with a substantial, slip-resistant sole (such as hiking boots or garden boots), and long pants are REQUIRED.  
  • Once training is completed, participants will walk down a series of steps to the Edgewater Dog Beach.  The outfall is located at the bottom of the steps.
  • Doug Lopata, Program Manager, Engineering & Construction for Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, will provide an overview of Project Clean Lake, the Northwest Interceptor and the Edgewater combined sewer outfall.
  • Since the Edgewater combined sewer is narrow, participants will enter the pipe in small groups – no more than 8 participants.
  • The tour is weather-dependent.  If there has been recent rainfall or if it’s raining the day of the tour, there is a possibility it will be cancelled.  The Sewer District will alert the City Club of Cleveland the morning of the event.
  • If you have any questions about the tour, please contact Jeannie Smith, Director of Administration and External Affairs . . .

I was glad to read that so many people were interested in the 50 Years of Clean Water Investment event that The City Club had to create a waiting list! For years, I have been interested in seeing what was beyond the Edgewater entrance gate of the sewer. I was grateful to be one of the few fortunate people who were allowed to go on the tour.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) staff did a fantastic job of sharing information about the important infrastructure that makes cleaner water possible for the Greater Cleveland area. During my lifetime, the system has been improved to lessen the pollution impact on Lake Erie.

My hope is that what I share here will encourage you to learn more. The photos I shared from inside the tunnel are not the same as the experience that I had actually walking in the tunnel.

GOOD NEWS!!  I was told that Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will be doing more of these tours in the new year, since they see that there is a lot of interest.

The three parts of the event were:

1) Safety Requirements -- Interesting!!
2) Sewer Knowledge
3) Sewer Tour


1) Safety Requirements -- Interesting!!
. . . 15-minute confined space training. . . . rescue wristlets, a hard hat, safety glasses, and gloves.  . . . Edgewater combined sewer is narrow . . .

At first, it is intimidating to read about the pre-tour safety training, safety equipment (what the heck are "rescue wristlets?"-- they sound scary!), and the narrow sewer, but I have never been a person to shy away from an adventure -- especially when you learn about how to make the adventure safe. (Ask me sometime about all the reading I do to educate myself about safety before I go on some of my other kinds of adventures -- knowledge gives power.) Learning how the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District was keeping those of us on the tour safe ended up being an interesting part of the sewer tour.

Some of the safety procedures included:

  • Fresh air was pumped in from above to blow out fumes

  • NEORSD staff on the tour carried sensors for different types of gases

  • NEORSD Confined Space Rescue Team was on-site -- they are trained and carry oxygen tanks

  • Tour participants were told to avoid touching the walls, and wore waterproof, disposable gloves

  • 3M™ DBI-SALA® Retrieval Wristlets 1001210

Since I arrived a half-hour early, I was able to talk to the NEORSD staff as they set up the hard hat area, and laid out the safety items that those of us on the tour would wear. They told me that the smell coming out of the opening was due to fresh air being pumped in from uphill. From the angle that I was looking, the opening looked very small, but I was assured that there was plenty of room to walk under the 1,000 pound gate as it was held open by a chain attached to a Caterpillar excavator. (We were strongly advised not to stop under the gate as we walked under it!)


At first, seeing the “Confined Space Rescue” truck was disconcerting -- what did I sign up for that would require this emergency service?!? -- but as I saw the crew put on their rescue gear and air tanks, I was glad they were on hand, just in case.

In a previous job, in a technical writer position, all employees were required to take confined space training, even if their jobs did not require entering the tanks at the factory. Having had this training, I have a great appreciation for extreme dangers associated with confined space entry, and know the need for safety policies to ensure that lives are not lost.


Tom Kunsman @tkunsman: "Feel confident that DBI-Sala by @3m is the best safety equipment in the industry"
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3M™ D"BI-SALA® Retrieval Wristlets 1001210
* Retrieval wistlets for confined space rescue
* Attaches to victims wrists
* Ideal for narrow extractions
* Integral D-ring connection point for winch/SRL

Why You Should Add Wristlets to Your Rescue Kit
Posted by PK Safety Team onFri Apr 24th 2015

Wristlets are deployed when there is no other way to get a rescuer or victim out of a confined space. Most often this is because the entry is too narrow or restricted to allow retrieval with a regular harness and a D-ring attachment. . . . Wrist straps are also used for horizontal extraction.

Tom Kunsman (@tkunsman) is the man to follow on Twitter, since he often shares interesting facts. The following is his online conversation with NEORSD Communications Specialist Nicole Harvel, which led to learn more about the 3M™ DBI-SALA® Retrieval Wristlets 1001210."



2) Sewer Knowledge

Edgewater combined sewer outfall -- a mixture of sewer and stormwater
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Map of Northwest Interceptor
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Project Clean Lake! Sewer District's goal is to reduce combined sewer overflows into Lake Erie.
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Westerly Storage Tunnel -- Will reduce combined sewer overflows by 300 million gallons annually. Scheduled for completion by Summer of 2023.
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While waiting for my group to enter the tunnel (only a limited number of people can go in at a time), the NEORSD staff shared information about what was upstream from the Edgewater Outfall. There are miles of sewer tunnels moving water to the treatment plants.



3) Sewer Tour

As you go under the 1.000 pound gate, you enter a different world.


Everyone cheered as the first group returned!


I entered the tunnel!!! Once all the way in, we get to see the innermost door, which is normally closed -- NEORSD opened it especially for our tour! Be sure to listen to the sewer talks in the Twitter videos to learn more.


Wearing safety gear after sewer tour. Note that I am wearing my Continental Divide Trail shirt.
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Note that in the photo above, I am wearing my Continental Divide Trail shirt. I specifically chose to wear it to remind me of the many days of desert backpacking with no natural water sources in April 2022. As I left the tunnel and I looked out over all the water of Lake Erie from Edgewater Beach, thought about how important it is to never take water for granted!



NEORSD Communications Specialist Nicole Harvel's Photos

I enjoyed meeting Nicole Harvel and learning about her background in social media. In March 2022, she became the NEORSD Communications Specialist.

Here are Nicole Harvel's tweets with photos from the sewer tour:







Image description
a black and white photo.

you stand in the middle of a sewer tunnel, more than 10 feet high and dark. the bottom half of the tunnel is brick lined and textured, the top half is cement lined and smooth.

in front of you at a distance is a silhouetted figure, but they are clearly wearing a hard hat, carrying a large flashlight in their left hand.

beyond them is the end of the tunnel, a large flap gate hinged at the top and only open partially at the bottom, creating a crescent of light, the only source of illumination in the image.



. . . THIS IS THE CONTENT OF THE AGES. H/t you @sos_jr . . .

Some morning fun on Twitter from Joe Cimperman on Thursday, October 20, 2022:



NEORSD Video: Walk inside a 120-year-old sewer!

While writing this blog post, I first found the video above, which was posted by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's Communications & Community Relations Department. I then found the following NEORSD Medium.com blog post. The video is good, but the in-person sewer tour is far superior, since more information is shared and you get to experience the actual tunnel environment.



Related Blog Posts

I always like to end with a list of related blog posts, and my four "Water Treatment" blog posts provide great background information that directly relates to the 2022 NEORSD sewer tour. Everything flows together:


Thank you to The City Club for arranging the 2022 NEORSD sewer tour -- learn more about some of their work in my "The City Club" blog posts:


Also, see the following:


Water is important!! Thank you to The City Club for sponsoring the 2022 sewer tour, where attendees learned about how the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) works to improve water quality in Greater Cleveland!