Just in time for the holiday weekend, crews are cleaning Edgewater Beach after heavy rainfall and strong winds this past weekend sent large amounts of debris washing ashore.
Much of the debris washes down the Rocky River and empties into the lake, winding up on the beach at Edgewater.
This is a heavy-duty job for crews because much of the debris is wood. The wood debris is often cut up using chain saws and pushed into piles on the beach. These piles are then loaded into large, open-top containers and hauled away for disposal.
The crews work quickly to get the beach cleared of large debris so the sand can be raked and graded with bulldozers and tractors. Once the sand is graded and raked, it's ready for the beach machine to do its job, sifting through the sand to pull out small pieces of debris. The screen on the machine has hundreds of squares on it that sift through the debris, picking up even the smallest items.
Red flags indicating no swimming are posted at Edgewater Beach, not because the lake is choppy, but because high levels of E. coli make it too dangerous to take a dip. The problem is tied to the heavy rains. Despite infrastructure improvement, the combined sewer overflow spewed into Lake Erie three times in the last 10 days.
"Back in the 70s and 80s, that combined sewer overflow outfall discharged 40 to 50 times a year. But today, it's once every two to three years," said Jennifer Elting, of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.
While the heavy equipment grooms the beach, it is still very doubtful that Edgewater will be open for swimmers over the holiday weekend.
You can keep track of the water quality for every beach in the state at www.ohionowcast.info.
If you are planning a trip to Edgewater Beach over the weekend, your best bet is to hope for good weather leading up to the weekend.
"If we have good weather, it's usually a pretty good indicator, but it's not necessarily a guarantee," said Elting.