The city of Akron is inviting families to discover how they can contribute to cleaner waterways in Akron through cost-effective, environmentally conscious wastewater treatment that protects public health while providing water resources for residents.
The “Blue Heron Homecoming” is a day-long Environmental Festival and Open House, May 9, at Akron’s Water Reclamation facility on Akron-Peninsula Road in the Cuyahoga Valley.
The event celebrates the accomplishments of Akron’s wastewater treatment plant and the flock of blue herons that, for more than a decade, has turned the city property into a rookery – a breeding place for heron families.
“Akron has been honored by national organizations for its progressive initiatives in the treatment of wastewater,” said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. “Cities from around the world have come to Akron to try and duplicate our innovative methods that make for a cleaner environment. Since 1987, Akron has spent over $300 million to improve its sewer system, including upgrades to its wastewater treatment plant.”
The Open House takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The program for the day includes:.
- Hands-on environmental science demonstrations and activities for children.
- Exhibits by local engineering firms and environmental businesses.
- A 45-minute riding tour of the Akron Water Reclamation Facility, showing all the steps in the process of treating sewage before it returns to the Cuyahoga River.
- A walking tour of the plant’s laboratory that will give visitors the opportunity to learn about tests that are performed regularly. Advanced technology equipment and historic instruments used for analytical research will be displayed.
- A guided trolley tour of the Bath Road Blue Heron Rookery.
- Up-close views of the high-pressure water & vacuum truck that is used to clean sewer lines with video equipment that is used to locate obstructions.
Free parking will be available nearby with transportation provided to the plant. Sponsors will offer free refreshments including hot dogs, beverages and snacks between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Organizers are trying to make this a “zero-waste” event by using smart sustainable practices that will be instructional as well as functional.
“Water quality is important to Akron and its neighbors,” said Garry Moneypenny, president of the Akron City Council. “The Akron Water Reclamation Facility contributes to better health, a better environment, improved wildlife habitats and boosts our economy.”
In addition to the city of Akron, sponsors of the Open House include the CSO Project Management Team and the principal consultants on the project – MWH Global, Hatch Mott and G. Stephens, Inc. of Akron.
Other partners include Akron Public Schools, Akron Zoo, Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, Keep Akron Beautiful, Summit Metro Parks and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
“The residents of Greater Akron are closely connected with the facility,” said John Moore, director of Public Service. “They use it every day, but it’s a place they’ve never seen. This open house provides our ratepayers an up-close view of a major investment made over years and will educate children about good environmental science.”
Akron’s current Consent Decree requires a $1.4 billion dollar investment in the city’s environmental future, the largest single expenditure in its 189-year history, by remediating its combined sewer overflows.
A portion of Akron’s sewers were designed to carry both storm water and sanitary wastes in one pipe, and during a rain event, when the storm water contribution exceeds the capacity of the sewers, sewage overflows to streams or rivers. Akron’s Long Term Control Plan will improve the system by attempting to achieve zero untreated overflows in the typical year, improving water quality.
For more information about AkronWaterways Renewed, visit their web site.