Lake County General Health and Lake Erie College Form Clean Water Collaborative Partnership


The Lake County General Health District (LCGHD) and Lake Erie College (LEC) have entered into an agreement for sample collection and laboratory analyses of water quality discharging from Home Sewage Treatment Systems (HSTSs) in Lake County.

Discharging HSTSs installed since 2007 are permitted by the Ohio EPA under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, and are required to be sampled annually to ensure proper operation and discharging of water quality in accordance with the Clean Water Act and EPA standards.  Owners of these systems are also issued annual Operation Permits by LCGHD which include the sampling requirements and payment of an associated fee to cover costs.

Under the agreement, LEC selects two qualified students to be hired as seasonal employees by LCGHD, who provides training, supervision, oversight, materials, and transportation associated with field collection of the samples from the more than 350 relevant systems throughout the county.  In turn, LEC faculty provide training, supervision, and oversight associated with the students conducting the laboratory analyses at the LEC lab. LCGHD compensates LEC for overhead costs involved with the use of the lab space, equipment, and faculty, as well as consumable materials necessary for sample analysis.

According to Kevin Watson, Deputy Director of Environmental Health at LCGHD, “Recent changes in costs and scheduling constraints at nearby commercial laboratories were threatening to necessitate an increase in sampling fees for owners of these systems.  This agreement allows us to maintain these fees where they have been for several years now, and into the foreseeable future.”

The arrangement further provides consistent, reliable sample collection protocols and scheduling each summer, as well as reliable standardization of laboratory results in accordance with EPA methods.  And, the partnership helps ensure a dependable structure to complete sampling requirements year after year. Watson continued to say that, “As more and more of these types of discharging systems get permitted, it would have become increasingly difficult for LCGHD to cost-effectively meet the sampling needs.  This arrangement is scalable for future needs, as LEC will continue to have a pool of capable students to pull whatever number is necessary from each year to get the work done.”

For these students, the partnership offers an excellent experiential learning opportunity involving both scientific and public service components.  "This partnership is an outstanding example of how two organizations can collaborate to not only serve the community but also create innovative experiential learning opportunities for our students," shares Bryan Depoy, LEC, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness.

Johnathan Tedesco, Dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at LEC, adds “One of my favorite aspects of teaching at LEC is our ability to offer opportunities like this, where our students can be out in the community applying the skills they have learned in the classroom and lab.  The experiential aspect is important to us at LEC, so we are excited to be a part of this agreement. Additionally, faculty in our school feel it is of the utmost importance for our students to be both strong scientists and responsible citizens. This type of experience achieves these goals as our students will be applying their science backgrounds to provide a service to Lake County.  This is a wonderful way for LEC to serve our community, while our students gain valuable experience to boost their resumes.”

Watson concluded: “As the chief health strategist in Lake County, LCGHD is proud and excited to be partnering with LEC to provide this service to our community, with a continued focus on protecting water quality in Lake County.  And we hope this will lead to additional collaborative opportunities in the future.”

The Lake County General Health District, established in 1919, provides public health services, including vaccinations, restaurant inspections, and Women, Infants, Children (WIC) nutrition education, to all 23 political subdivisions in Lake County, Ohio.  Our vision is continuous improvement of the health and quality of life of all Lake County citizens, which is fostered by our working to prevent disease, promote health, and protect our community from public health threats.  Lake County General Health District was the 14th health department in Ohio to become accredited under Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) standards.

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