USA Triathlon's Swim Portion Was Canceled Sunday, But it Had Nothing to Do with Lake Erie Poop Water or Death


When it was announced that the swim portion of USA Triathlon's Sunday sprint event had been canceled, our first thought was that Lake Erie's water had been once again contaminated with sewage.

How grim, we lamented! Not only had a 75-year-old tragically died Saturday during the swim portion of the Olympic-Distance event, now poop had returned to the Lake. Our poop. 

But our fears were unfounded. As it turns out, USA Triathlon made the call to cancel, with input from the U.S. Coast Guard, due to strong currents. The decision was related neither to the death of Jim Hix nor to water quality. Though a swimming advisory had been in place through the week due to sewage overflow after heavy rains last weekend, the advisory had been lifted in time for the Triathlon.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), communicating with Scene via social media, said that an overflow like the one that triggered last week's alerts hadn't occurred since 2015. This is a dramatic improvement from previous years, when it was not uncommon, NEORSD said, for overflow sewage to contaminate Lake Erie 50 times per year.

NEORSD is currently in the midst of a massive infrastructure project, building large underground tunnels, making treatment plant improvements and expanding green infrastructure to drastically reduce the volume of combined sewer overflow discharging into Lake Erie.

By 2036, NEORSD said, through the improvements of Project Clean Lake, 98 percent of all the flow reaching the region's combined sewer system will be captured for treatment instead of overflowing.

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