CLEVELAND — Summer days spent on Lake Erie are upon us and whether the water is safe enough to be in is now a big concern.
Standing from afar, the water at Villa Angela Beach sparkles on the horizon, but when you take a dive under the water, it paints a different picture.
“At Villa Angela, the water quality was predicted to be poor,” said Jenn Elting, a spokesperson for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, or NEORSD.
Predictive water quality tests showed there was bacteria in the beach water during the weekend, such as E. Coli. “That’s absolutely disgusting,” Christina Draper said.
Testing conducted Monday, however, shows the water quality had improved to "good."
Memorial Day weekend kicks off the recreational season and NEORSD’s daily testing of beach front water.
“From Memorial Day through Labor Day the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District actually tests the beach water quality every single day during recreation season,” Elting said.
NEORSD performs a prediction test that renders results 24 hours later. According to a press release Sunday revealing the first water quality test of the season, Edgewater Beach water quality was good, while Villa Angela’s water tested for more than 90 percent bacteria.
“It looks better than it did years ago but, I mean, it’s camouflaged,” Michael Bohem said.
Memorial Day weekend 2020, the sewer district said the bacteria levels were similar and looked the same years before that.
“It could be a lot of different water factors that contribute to poor water quality,” Elting said.
One of which is sewage overflow. The same issue that left half a million without access to clean tap water in Toledo in 2014.
“[The sewage dams] used to discharge about 40, 60 times a year,” Elting said. “We are still having a lot of overflows. We had noticed that they’d been occurring a little bit more frequently over the last five years.”
Years in the making, Elting said the sewer district is working to reduce the number of overflows, keeping the water cleaner.
“We were able to remove some inflatable dams that were causing some hiccups in the system,” Elting said. “By removing them, we found that we’re actually better able to manage the flows throughout the entire system and look at some other areas to control the flows.”
Elting said you can still fish and even dip your feet in the water at quality levels as high at 93 percent but be sure not to swallow the water.