NORTHEAST OHIO REGIONAL SEWER DISTRICT was organized in July 1972 to administer Cuyahoga County's water pollution control program. The treatment of sewage in Cleveland began in 1922 with the opening of the Westerly wastewater treatment plant at 5800 and the West Shoreway. In 1925 the Easterly plant at E. 140th St. and Lakeshore Blvd. began treatment and 3 years later the Southerly plant at E. 71st St. and Canal Rd. in CUYAHOGA HTS. was in operation. Cleveland, which owned the 3 treatment plants and the major interceptors leading to them, initiated sewage charges in 1938 levied on those connected with the system to defray the cost of improvements. Suburban customers were charged higher rates than those in the city, and the justice of this continuing rate differential was disputed by the suburbs from time to time. The issue became urgent in the late 1960s when further improvements to the sewage disposal operation were needed to reduce pollution in the CUYAHOGA RIVER and Lake Erie. Many of the suburbs, who owned their local sewage collection systems feeding into the major interceptors, refused to finance their share of the improvements unless Cleveland gave up its exclusive authority over sewage disposal, including rate setting. Cleveland was unwilling to do so despite pressure from state and federal pollution authorities to regionalize the area's entire water pollution program. Demand for a regional solution increased in 1970 when the suburbs and the Ohio Water Pollution Control Board challenged Cleveland's control in Common Pleas Court, which had jurisdiction over public health. When newly elected mayor Ralph Perk agreed to suburban participation in a regional district, Judge George McMonagle established the Cleveland Regional Sewer District, effective July 1972. A 7-member District Board of Trustees representing the interests of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and the suburbs was empowered to set sewage rates. The facilities owned by the City of Cleveland were transferred to the new district, which had the authority to control, plan, finance, establish, maintain, and operate the primary sewage disposal system in Cuyahoga County. The district also assumed a regulatory role over all sanitary and industrial sewage discharges in the county to meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements. In its first 20 years the district, which became the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in 1979, spent more than $922 million to clean up Lake Erie and its local tributaries, receiving $555 million of that amount in construction grants from the U.S. EPA. Major projects included a new Westerly wastewater Treatment Plant and a Combined Sewer Overflow Control System. In 1992 the district owned and operated 5 sewage treatment plants and maintained 12 major interceptors, serving over one million people in 55 communities.