History of Water Reclamation Facility

In 1910, the City was ordered by the State Board of Health to abate the nuisance it was creating in the Little Cuyahoga River due to discharge of untreated sewage. As a result of the court orders, a trunk intercepting sewer and treatment plant were designed capable of treating 15 million gallons per day (MGD). Due to lack of sufficient funds, the originally planned working capacity of the treatment plant was reduced to 8 MGD. The original treatment plant was put into operation in 1916 and was located on Cuyahoga Street, on the current site of the Cuyahoga Street Storage Facility. Due to the lure of jobs and growth of the rubber industry in Akron, the original treatment plant was undersized before it even went into operation. Akron’s population in 1910 according to the U.S. Census Bureau was 69,067. By 1920, the City was credited with 208,435 persons! At that time, there was an estimated quantity of sewage from area tributary to the plant of 25 million gallons per day (MGD), leaving 17 MGD of untreated sewage and industrial wastes going into the Little Cuyahoga River.

In 1922, the State of Ohio Director of Health ordered the City of Akron to install and operate a collection and treatment system to prevent the pollution of the Cuyahoga River. In the same year, the City began acquiring land near the town of Botzum earmarked for the new treatment plant. The property was purchased from several owners including members of the Botzum and Hardy families. In all, the City obtained 834 acres at an average price of $127 per acre. In the Spring of 1926, the Walsh Construction Co. of Davenport, Iowa began work on what is now the site of our existing treatment plant. Total cost of the Plant was $3,730,000. At one point, there were 523 men working on the construction of the new Plant. Approximately 4.1 miles of 12’ x 7.5’outfall sewer was constructed from the old treatment plant on Cuyahoga Street to the new plant at Botzum in a mere 8 months, allowing the new plant to begin receiving flow on December 12, 1928.

Early on from the opening of the new treatment plant, industrial wastes load from the rubber plants overtaxed the capacity of the new plant. Following an extensive industrial waste survey and cooperation from the rubber companies, the suspended solids loading was reduced to within design parameters. This was accomplished by the installation of pretreatment units at the rubber plants. Continued growth of the City and lack of funding, made it difficult to obtain the desired results. Akron did not have a Sewer Service charge until the early 1960s.

Enormous changes have occurred since the Water Reclamation Facility was opened in 1928 serving a growing industrial Midwestern city: the size, population, and characteristics of our service area; the processes and technologies used to treat and collect wastewater; the environmental awareness and stricter water quality standards and regulations. What has not changed is our unwavering dedication and commitment to serving our customers well, and protecting public health and the environment.