News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Meaden & Moore

The Holden Arboretum

Metro RTA


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Economy and Business


Forward thinking a century ago is saving Canton billions of dollars today
And current city leaders are trying to take advantage of that to give Canton a leg up on other communities in economic development
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


Reporter
Tim Rudell
 
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Canton, Akron and Cleveland are spending big on waste water. But, unlike its larger neighbors, Canton doesn't have to. And, while it is choosing to invest upwards of $100 million in a new technology, the cities to the north are being ordered to lay out billions to fix an old problem Canton dealt with a century ago.

LISTEN: World's biggest biomembrane treatment comes to Canton

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:45)


The world’s largest waste-water “biomembrane” is emerging — or rather, submerging --in Canton.
Instead of continuing to filter waste water the old way in sand and anthracite, Canton will send it through plastic-bound membranes in what looks like submersible window air-conditioners; in a 27,000-unit underwater array.

Facility Engineer Doug Harris at Canton’s plant says, “This has a much, much smaller pore size and higher level of liquid solid separation than what the existing process does…this has been shown to actually remove viruses.”

Past decisions pay off big
And in a bit if a twist on history repeating, Canton is in position to make this jump ahead in water-service technology because of a bug long ago. 

The threat of diphtheria in the 19th and early 20th centuries caused forward-thinking Canton leaders — nobody knows exactly which ones — to build the first scientifically based municipal waste treatment plant west of the Alleghenies. And, they built two sewer systems, one for waste and one for rain and melt runoff, so germs wouldn’t wash back into the city drinking water with storm overflows.

Innovative stuff. And, as current Canton Mayor William Healy points out, a fiscal game-changer today.

“Because of those action a hundred years ago by some brilliant forefathers, Canton today is benefiting immensely because the EPA has decided every community needs to separate those lines. And that’s Akron’s problem, and Cleveland’s problem. Most of the major cities in Ohio, if not throughout the countr,y are going to experience multi-billion dollar infrastructure costs to solve this issue.” 

Starting small
Engineer Harris explains that the biomembrane technology is modular and has been used for years where space limitation or remoteness are factors. But as he and his colleagues were researching a technological advance for Canton -- and saw effectiveness and cost efficiency in the membranes -- they asked if a system of them could be scaled up to city-size. Japanese membrane maker Kubota Industries said yes, and agreed to build the first such array in the world, for Canton.

But why now? Why commit to heavy spending in such tough times?

Mayor William Healy answers: “Business development” -- leveraging Canton’s assets, including a huge water supply, being in the middle of the Utica Shale play and, now, state-of-the-art in waste-water handling.

“We are positioned to have one of the lowest cost and largest abundance of fresh water anywhere in the country. And when you add that to the low cost of natural gas and electricity, and to the ability to treat the waste water at one of the lowest costs anywhere in the country, you can see how, from an operational standpoint, this is one of the lowest costs to locate a manufacturing facility, or anybody who’s going to be using gas and electricity, needs water and/or waste water treatment.”

A link to fracking that could become bigger
And, Healy says, there could be direct economic development with the international company that created Canton’s biomembrane system, Japan’s Kubota Industries. “We’re talking about a distribution center for the whole Northeast. We’re talking about  an R&D facility in partnership with the local colleges. And we’re also talking about future manufacturing that could be here for them. We literally could become the capital of membrane technology and waste water treatment.

Healy, who has also been pushing Canton, as the largest city in the midst of the Utica shale play, as the "Capital of the Utica," says he’s broached the subject with Kubota of developing a membrane-based water reprocessing technology for the oil and gas drilling industry. But, that’s where things get controversial.

Melanie Houston of the Ohio Environmental Council says ideas of recycling for the drilling industry, or even of processing fracwater better before disposal may have merit. But something involving drinking water, not so much.

“My first thought is, this would need to be a very sophisticated technology. Treating and returning to a water supply, were it not to be done to the standard that it needs to be, could potentially be dangerous."

But, Canton Engineer Harris says, that’s all moot.

“We’re not currently regulated to accept fracwater, or anything related to hydraulic fracking. If there is some technology in the future that can process that and ultimately discharge something to us that is safe and able to be treated and handled, we would certainly consider that.  But it’s not part of this project."

The city of Canton now processes waste water for about 160,000 homes, businesses and office in Stark and Summit counties.  


Related WKSU Stories

With no approval yet for a sewer rebuild, Akron is taking what steps it can
Monday, April 9, 2012

City Council gives Akron sewer project green light
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

Goodyear recruits thousands of vets
What a wonderful interview! Excellent reporting skills by a talented young reporter! I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Schley!

Ohio Democratic Party begins the rebuilding process
I agree 100% with Sen. Brown. I think it is absolutely critical for the Democratic Party in Ohio to engage in the long, tedious, hard task of re-building from t...

They're talking again in the Macedonia bridge dispute
Norfolk Southern says the Ledge road bridge meets regulations for train traffic, however it was built as an overpass for a roadway and/or farm usage. I think t...

Cleveland City Council to consider transgender public restroom law
this is sick. I do not want my daughter in the same bathroom as a perverted 45 year old man. this proposed legislation could seriously damage the security of ch...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University