The water "next time" @ Baldwin filtration plant!

Submitted by Martha Eakin on Sat, 05/13/2006 - 21:12.

This morning Susan Miller and I went to visit the Baldwin Water Works which were open to the public, along with Crown Waterworks on the West side, in honor of National Water Week.  Our enthusiastic guide was Edwin Guasp, the Chief of Laboratories for Cleveland’s Water Division. Our group included a couple from Shaker Hts and later we were joined by a father and daughter (12?) from Brunswick.


 We learned a lot of details…e.g. there are four intakes but only one of them, (the Kirtland Crib out in the harbor) that  brings water to the Baldwin plant, is  visible above the lake.  This particular intake is the one we see off the breakwater.  It now sports the tower that has anemometers and once was the seasonal home of the bell keepers whose job it was to ring a bell during storms and fogs and whenever a boat was known to be in the vicinity. This bell now stands near the main entrance of the Baldwin Plant. Our guide said it was made in 1898 even though the plaque says 1900.


I t seems that all the Water Works have been closed to visitors since 911.  We learned that chlorine gas has been replaced by  liquid sodium hypo chlorite   as a disinfectant because it is much less volatile in a spill.  


As I walked home I reflected that although  we talk of the dangers of terrorism…THE BIGGEST THREAT TO OUR WATER RIGHT NOW IS US.  At the end of the tour groups were taken to see a video produced by EPA and the Weather Channel.  It was informative, showing the numerous serious degrading affects that people have perpetrated on the world’s water systems. 


Helpfully, it did not just enumerate problems without suggesting positive actions that can be taken by average citizens. My kids regularly are given extra credit opportunities – go see the Jane Austin movie, go to this book reading/signing and so on.  We would all benefit if our kids were assigned to watch this movie. They might just learn how to define watershed and realize that every time Chem-Lawn comes to your neighborhood, chemicals that don’t have time to be absorbed by the greenery will be heading via water from a sprinkler or the clouds into your watershed and quite possibly into your drinking water. Carwash soap, blacktop seal-coat, and pet waste left lying follow the same route.


The Division of Water deserves praise for putting together an informative visit that not only offered details about how our water is made potable but also made suggestions on what it means to be a responsible citizen of a watershed.

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award winning historic water plant

The renovation was magnificent and the $10 million project was award winning.

The project's general contractors received a Build America Award from the Associated General Contractors of America
Shook/Kokosing, LLC,
Brecksville, Ohio
Merit Award Municipal & Utilities Renovation—
Baldwin Waterworks Plant

This project was to rehabilitate the Baldwin Water Works Plant Filters in the 78-year-old plant that was designated a Historic landmark in 1973. Preservation of the historic and architectural features was a significant part of the work. To avoid damaging any of the features, access to the deep work area under the filters was limited to a new stair shaft at one end of the building. Passing through this shaft were 2,500 tons of removed pipe, a like amount of new pipe, fittings and valves and all of the concrete, masonry and other materials necessary for the large project.

And from the Cleveland Restoration Society


This impressive example of early twentieth century urban public architecture stands prominently on Cleveland’s East Side, near the crest of Fairhill Road, as the commanding structure. This group of stylistically and functionally inter-related buildings composes the handsome 50-acre Baldwin Reservoir campus.

Cleveland landscape architect Albert D. Taylor designed the site on which the Water Works stands in 1920. In 1925, Herman Kregelius designed this superb Palladian building, rendered in red brick and stone, and capped by huge slate roofs. It is 750-feet in length, three-stories tall and stands adjacent to the largest covered reservoir in the world measuring 1,035 feet long, 551 feet wide and 39 feet tall, and containing 1,196 columns to support its subterranean roof structure. The reservoir has a storage capacity of almost 136 million gallons.

The restoration of the Baldwin Water Works is the first phase of a multi-million dollar restoration and rehabilitation of the entire campus. Begun in 2000, the project was substantially completed in 2004. The Cleveland Restoration Society recognizes The City of Cleveland and its partners for their commitment and excellence in restoration.

And From American Public Works Association


Baldwin Water Treatment Plant Rehabilitation

Managing Agency: City of Cleveland, Ohio, Department of Public Utilities, Division of                                             Water

Primary Contractor: Shook/Kokosing Joint Venture

Primary Consultant: Malcolm Pirnie, Inc.

Nominated By: City of Cleveland, Ohio, Department of Public Utilities, Division of Water

The major renovation of Cleveland's 80-year-old Baldwin Water Works Plant, a registered historic landmark, was a most challenging project. The assignment was to double the capacity of half the plant's 40 existing filters, located in one of its two Filter Wings, so as to free space for new chemical storage and feed equipment to be installed in a future phase. At the same time, the interior and exterior of the Filter Wings were to be restored, in many places to their original condition, or, where restoration was impossible due to the process improvements, to preserve the building's historical significance through unique visual effects.

The Filter and Administration Buildings have a total floor area of approximately 268,000 square feet. The Filter Building construction consists of concrete reinforced walls below grade and brick and sandstone walls above grade with a combination of flat roof and sloped slate shingle roofs. The center pavilion of the Administrative Building is a three-story structure with the main entry at the second floor accessed by a series of exterior stairs.

The restoration work preserved and even enhanced the plant's many unique architectural features—a beautiful, multi-stories-high bronze and glass entrance with a sculptured motif of leaves and symbols, the filter gallery itself with its paneled wood ceiling, marble and bronze filter operation tables, and quarry-tiled floor.

To keep the "vintage" look, the engineers used creative approaches. HVAC equipment was added to the operating gallery by installing ductwork in the roof supports and painting it to match the ceiling. Although the filter operation is automatic, there is no control equipment on the operating gallery floor, keeping the 1925 look, while at the same time hiding what was added.

Because the pipe gallery had to be dehumidified, piping observation wells were enclosed. To preserve the architectural look while providing visual access, glass pavers were installed in the floor and enclosed by refinished railings. Near each filter, an inconspicuous panel door conceals a digitally controlled, valve master control station with a computer port, with a marble counter supported by "historic"-looking brackets for laptop use. "Vintage"-looking architectural grills supply makeup air to the operating gallery.

In the completely renovated interior, new walls isolate filters from the operating area, preserving the original architectural look. High-tech filter controls are concealed in a closed control room, and air handling units are located outdoors. Much exterior stone and metal work was rehabilitated, and the rooftop portico was restored, with brick pavers installed; planter benches and architectural "doghouses" conceal HVAC and other equipment on the rooftop. This rooftop surface was preserved for public gatherings.

Here's a link to Cleveland's water system history
    Fascinating! It's only 150 years old!

and one more reference to Cleveland Water...

where our water comes from--fish, zebra mussels and all...