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Akron's BioCEPT will help clean waste from water before it reaches Cuyahoga River

 An aerial view of the new water reclamation facility in Akron
City of Akron Engineering Bureau
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City of Akron Engineering Bureau
This is an aerial view of the new water reclamation facility in Akron. According to Pat Gsellman, program manager for Akron Waterways Renewed, the facility will help keep sewer rates lower for the next several years.

Akron has brought online a groundbreaking $65 million water treatment facility intended to cut down on the amount of untreated waste ending up in the Cuyahoga River.

The new Biologically Chemically Enhanced Primary Treatment (BioCEPT) water reclamation facility eliminates all nutrients from the sewage it treats that would otherwise end up in the river. The chemicals and organic material left behind in the sludge are then converted into biosolids that can be reused to power the entire facility.

It’s among two-dozen projects in Akron’s federal consent decree with the U.S. E.P.A. to significantly reduce the amount of untreated sewage ending up in the Cuyahoga River.

Pat Gsellman is the program manager for Akron Waterways Renewed that oversaw the project.

Pat Gsellman with Akron Waterways Renewed
benefiting the Cuyahoga River
 Pat Gsellman with Akron Waterways Renewed

“It’s very normal to have higher capacity of that primary treatment than the secondary, but in Akron’s case now we provide 100% of that treatment, which obviously is a tremendous benefit to the Cuyahoga River and really providing that treatment then for future generations. It’ll be there for a long time,” Gsellman said.

The new facility can treat around 280 million gallons of wastewater per day during wet weather periods. It will remain offline outside of those periods which will save costs on the chemicals used in treating the water.

This means that during these peak flows from rain or snow melt, the facility will serve around 340,000 residents in Akron and some surrounding suburbs that are contracted to this facility.

Gsellman says the technology used in this facility will help keep sewer rates in the area significantly lower for the next several years and could soon be implemented at other water treatment facilities nationwide.

Jay Shah is a broadcast journalist finishing her Master of Arts degree at Kent State University. She joined WKSU as a news intern in 2020 and now works as a freelance producer for Ideastream Public Media’s daily local news headlines.