Western Lake Erie Sediment Reduction & Environmental Improvement Project
Northwest Ohio, OH

Grantee: Ohio Division of Soil & Water Conservation, ODNR
Basin Program Funds: $200,000
Non-federal Funds: $83,695
Project Duration: 07/2002 - 01/2005
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The Maumee River is still the largest source of sediment to Lake Erie. The 1998 State of the Lake Report gave a "Poor" rating for suspended solids because of sediment loading. The 2000 Lake Erie Protection & Restoration Plan called for reducing sediment loading by 67%. Urbanization in many portions of the watershed is threatening to obliterate even the successes achieved through agricultural best management practices (BMPís). Helping Ohio EPA implement additional sediment controls through the Phase II stormwater management program and increasing sediment retention within headwater ditches, which comprise over 80% of the riverís drainage network, represent excellent opportunities to expand sediment reduction options beyond practices in current use.

The Maumee River Basin covers 6,330 square miles and includes over 6,000 miles of streams, ditches and river mainstem. Nearly 80% of the basin is intensively farmed, accounting for most of the riverís annual sediment load to Lake Erie, which averages nearly 1.2 tons annually or over 600 lbs/acre. Primary sediment sources are agricultural cropland (72%) and urban and gully erosion (27%). Additional improvement in water quality and reduction in costs associated with sedimentation is contingent upon maintaining existing sediment best management practices (BMPís) and developing new programs and techniques to reduce erosion and sediment transport. The two principal BMPís currently being used to reduce erosion and sedimentation include conservation tillage and buffer strips. Nearly 60% of the cropland in the basin is farmed using some form of conservation tillage, and a new buffer program, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) will add 67,000 miles of buffer over the next ten years. Although investment in technical and financial assistance targeted to agricultural sources of sediment have resulted in quantifiable improvements, it is unlikely that there will be significant expansion of conservation acreage. Buffer strips will help reduce sediment, but with current resources, are projected to be installed on only 2-5% of the stream and ditch miles.

This project will establish a new program with Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) to employ local SWCD Stormwater Specialists (SSs) to reduce sediment loading and restore stream channel integrity. State funds totaling $300,000 will be utilized to provide 4-year grants to SWCDs to create SSs positions throughout the state. GLC funds will enable ODNR to expand the program initially, with ODNR picking up all program costs after the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) grant period of two years. GLC funds will allow ODNR to add 2 additional positions in the Lake Erie Basin. The program is designed to institutionalize greater stormwater expertise in SWCDs and to encourage the adoption of recommended state stormwater detention and stream protection guidelines through training of the SSs, education of local officials, and infusion of improved stormwater design criteria in the state and local stormwater management programs.

Phase II areas of the Maumee Basin (Auglaize, Allen, Lucas, Wood & Ottawa SWCDs) will receive top priority. The SSs will focus on NPDES Phase II program and the urban requirements of the Coastal Nonpoint Program. ODNR, Division of Soil & Water Conservation (DSWC) will administer the program as well as provide training and technical support to the participating SWCDs and Stormwater Specialists.

The second portion of this grant proposal will involve the construction of a second two-stage demonstration channel using natural channel design principles developed by DSWC an The Ohio State University (OSU) on a drainage ditch in the southwestern portion of Wood County in the Maumee River watershed. The two-stage channel founded on fluvial geomorphologic (FGM) principles, lessens the need for frequent maintenance, allow for retention of sediments by creating in-channel floodplains, and restoring stream structure to increase biological integrity. DSWC will facilitate a Project Task Force comprised of ODNR, OSU, and local officials to direct and oversee design, construction, education/outreach, and evaluation activities.

A competitive grant program was established which offered an Urban Storm Water Specialists positions within urbanizing Lake Erie Counties. The result was approval of positions in Lake, Lucas, Cuyahoga, Medina and Geauga Soil and Water Conservation District Offices. Training was initiated and storm water specialists began serving Phase II and other communities. Urban Storm Water Specialists in Lucas, Lake, Cuyahoga and Geauga are providing erosion and sediment control services to county and municipalities and technical assistance regarding construction site erosion control. Additional SWCD staff provided, and continue to provide this service in Medina counties. Urban Storm Water Specialists are now promoting construction site erosion and sediment controls (CSE) and water quality storm water practices and improved stream management, which will protect water quality and stream integrity in Lucas, Lake, Cuyahoga, Medina and Geauga Counties.

On the Fluvial Geomorphology Ditch Demonstration project a cooperative agreements entered with landowners. The survey, design and construction was completed on Needles Creek. This project constructed approximately 1500 feet of 2-stage channel in a previously modified reach of the creek. The object of the 2-stage form was to construct a channel incorporating features of a naturally evolved channel, while constructing an overall capacity that provides for necessary drainage purposes. It is hypothesized that this type of construction offers ecological benefits in terms of water quality and channel morphology and also economic benefits if channel work is decreased over time. Once constructed, the project will be monitored over the long term for biological, water quality (including sediment) and hydraulic parameters. This project was performed in coordination with other drainage channel demonstrations aimed at improving channel integrity and maintaining flow capacity in Ohio and Michigan and is being monitored under these efforts by the Ohio State University.

Contact: Mr. John Mathews, 614-265-6685


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150.  projects.glc.org. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner