Straight from the Tap

Water Quality Makes a Difference

07/23/2015

Cleveland Water's Water Quality Manager, Scott Moegling giving a tour during this year's National Drinking Water Week.

One of the biggest responsibilities for Cleveland Water, if not the biggest, is to produce high quality and great tasting water to our customers. One of the main people whose job it is to ensure this happens  is Scott Moegling, Water Quality Manager for Cleveland Water. We had the opportunity to sit down with Scott and speak with him for a few minutes to find out a little about him and what he is responsible for.

Even while growing up in North Canton, Water Quality Manager Scott Moegling remembers building things. He also remembers being amazed and interested in moving water such as rivers and waves at the beach. It’s no surprise he ended up in Civil Engineering at The University of Akron, from which he graduated in 1990, and where he was fortunate to attend graduate school to work on a grant with the City of Akron.

“We were developing a relatively new thing called a water quality computer model and I was responsible for developing the mixing and quality model for different types of water storage tanks,” Scott recalls. “It is hard to believe that was 25 years ago and we, as an industry, are still trying to figure out how to minimize the age of water in storage tanks.”

Following graduation, Scott went to work for a large consultant, got his Professional Engineer’s license, and settled in for the next 20 years at Ohio EPA where he became the lead engineer in the Division of Drinking and Ground Waters. In March, Scott decided to change things up and joined Cleveland Water, and we decided to ask him a few questions and get to know him a little better.

So, what does a Water Quality Manager do?

The position requires me to ensure Cleveland Water meets all drinking water regulations. I also provide content for, and date and file, our annual reports; assist the plant managers where I can; and address customer water quality complaints.

Lake Erie’s ability to change very quickly, along with recent issues like the Dead Zone, Harmful Algal Blooms, and constantly changing technology and regulations, make the job a challenging one. If you would have told me 20 years ago that we would be looking at satellite images of Lake Erie to help figure out what treatment changes we might need to make, I probably would have laughed. But I actually look at this type of thing every day for algae or ice cover.  

What’s your favorite part of working for Cleveland Water so far?

The high caliber of water professionals I get to work with every day. I realized very quickly that I will be learning something new from them each day for the rest of my career, and that is exciting! 

And everyone is very friendly here!

Tell us a little about the water quality process.

Much of water treatment is monitored through computers from a remote location, which is a huge change over the years. We spend a lot of time and money trying to make water as pristine as possible through treatment. Once treated, we send it out into 5,200 miles of piping where quality deteriorates immediately and anything and everything can happen to compromise the quality of that water. And, it’s all underground and out of sight. This is the challenge of the water industry – to treat, and to deliver, high quality water. Fortunately, we’ve done a pretty darn good job of that in the U.S. because most people never need to question the safety of the water when they turn on the tap. That is why events like Toledo are such big news.

Is there anything that people should know about water quality?

Every day that I walk into work, I think about the importance of water and its impact on the quality of life we enjoy. The Great Blackout in August 2003 confirmed this for me. It wasn’t the lack of electricity, air conditioning or television that caused people the most trouble. The biggest issue was not having water to easily drink, shower, launder, flush toilets, and even eat at restaurants. That is what people remember, and that is what makes me want to do my job – knowing how important it is to have ample supplies of safe water available. Half of the world cannot open a tap and have water come out all the time or know that it is safe to drink. We are fortunate here.

I once read that the use of chlorine and modern water treatment has saved more lives around the world than all of the medical vaccines ever given, for all of the diseases combined. It’s nice to work in a field that makes that kind of a difference in people’s lives.

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