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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Oregon City Council approved an agreement to purchase a portion of property at 7055 Corduroy Road for $20,000 for the Wolf Creek Riparian Corridor.

The city was awarded a $62,391 Coastal Management Assistance Grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources about two years ago to develop a Wolf Creek-Berger Ditch Corridor Restoration Plan and to buy a portion of property along Wolf Creek and improve drainage for the Wolf Creek Watershed.

The purchased property, totaling 3.6-acres along Wolf Creek, was owned by Lorraine M. Crapsey and Marie A. Fuller. It is adjacent to property purchased by the city as part of the water plant.

“The purchase of this land is really in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources grant,” Oregon Public Service Director Paul Roman said at a council meeting on Jan. 23. “The grant was really a group effort that was obtained by the city with the help of TMACOG (Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments) and the University of Toledo. The grant covered the purpose of establishing the Wolf Creek-Berger Ditch Corridor Restoration Plan. The idea is to take Wolf Creek, which is a natural stream, and restore it to a lot of the natural wetland plantings that used to be along the creek.”

The plan not only establishes the riparian corridor, but is also a form of storm water treatment, he added.

Half of the grant goes toward the creation of the plan, and the other half goes toward acquiring land for the corridor. He said.

“As much as we pay $20,000 for the initial purchase, we will be reimbursed about $13,024 from the grant. In the end, our net cost for the land is $6,900,” said Roman.

“The riparian corridor includes not only putting in trees and wetland plantings, but also looking at the idea of collecting and trapping sediment from ever going out into the lake,” he said.

Wolf Creek could end up like Otter Creek without a riparian corridor, said Roman.

“Take a look at Otter Creek and the problems you have with Otter Creek in the city. It’s a very low valley that comes through the city. There are a lot of homes that encroach right up on Otter Creek, and those homes are subject to quite a bit of flooding as well as erosion to the properties. If you would have had a riparian corridor established in those days, it’s likely you wouldn’t have that same problem now. This is the idea of the riparian corridor: to protect these natural streams and also not allow future liability to occur from allowing development to encroach so close to it,” said Roman.

Another reason for the purchase of the property, according to Roman, is to improve the quality of water that drains into Lake Erie.

“Not only do we watch over the streams to try and reduce flooding, but we also are charged with trying to improve water quality of the drainage that discharges to Lake Erie. We’re in the second five-year period of permitting for storm water. And we’ve always collected quarterly samples of all our streams that discharge to Lake Erie. We’re one of the few communities that do that. But what we’ve noticed – and probably our primary pollutant that comes from the city to the lake - is sediment. When we go out and try to report every year as to what we’ve done in terms of water quality, we’re always looking for new `best management practices’ to show what can be done around the lake and the entire area in northwest Ohio. To me, this idea of a riparian corridor is more of a way of providing water quality in terms of storm water treatment by way of a natural setting by using actual plants to absorb the pollutants that are in the water. One of the ideas with this riparian corridor is to put in sedimentation ponds as a way of trapping sediment. When you look at and study the movement of sediment, you also realize that bacteria will attach itself to sediment as well as nutrients. So when you look at the concept of treatment, if you can simply remove sediment from the flow, you’re actually preventing nutrients and bacteria from actually going out to the lake,” said Roman.

The city has partnered with the University of Toledo, which has a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, to put in wetlands in Maumee Bay State Park to provide storm water treatment off of Wolf Creek and Berger Ditch, according to Roman.

“Again, if we were to put in another form of treatment to collect sediment, and they are to put in another type of wetland treatment downstream, as a partnership, we are really improving storm water,” he said.

Another point Roman wanted to make regarding Wolf Creek is that the city installed close to $8 million in sanitary sewers in the city and removed failing septic systems that discharge bacteria to the creeks.

“I think we’ve done a good job in reducing bacteria that used to go out to our ditches” he said. But 50 percent of the Wolf Creek Watershed, he said, is without sewers.

“And this creek is the creek that flows through Maumee Bay State Park and out to our beaches. So again, part of this riparian corridor is to create a natural setback and not allow development to encroach on the stream, and it’s also an example of what can be done with storm water in terms of treating it and providing a better water quality before it discharges to the lake,” said Roman.

The University of Toledo will be coming back to the city to look at other land around the water treatment plant, and look at putting in `nutrient collectors,’ small shell swales that would go along farm land that discharges into creeks, said Roman.

“The idea is to take tile drainage and route that through these swales that will have wetland plantings in them that will absorb nutrients from the agricultural fields,” he said. “The University of Toledo feels that they not only can collect the nutrients absorbed by the plants, but can also actually cut the plants and reuse them on the farmers’ land. It’s a way of recycling the fertilizer, rather than allowing the nutrients to escape out into the lake. So there’s a lot of great ideas out there, and this land is intended to be used towards that.”

Councilman James Seaman called it a “tremendous concept” to recycle nutrients in plants.

“So instead of letting the nutrients go into the lake and contribute to algae, they’re going to be clipped and cut and spread across the fields. That way, it will reinvigorate the fields in a very natural manner. Sounds very interesting,” said Seaman.