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Experience Gained from Watershed Studies in Cleveland, Ohio

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The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District serves approximately 1 million people in the Cleveland Metropolitan Area. The Sewer District owns and operates over 200 miles of interceptor sewers, and three wastewater treatment plants. In addition, the Sewer District is responsible for the regulating and overflow structures in the combined portion of the sewer system, and since 1995 has been developing long-term control plans for the entire combined sewer system. Plans for two of the five combined sewer service areas were incorporated into watershed planning efforts. In the watershed studies, channel erosion and flooding, water quality, and aquatic life and habitat were evaluated in addition to the sewer systems.

The Mill Creek Watershed Study took place from 1995–1998. Mill Creek has a total length of 12 miles, and the watershed is approximately 17,000 acres in size. In early 1998, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District began a study of the Doan Brook watershed, which will be completed in early 2001. Doan Brook's total length is approximately 9.4 miles, and its watershed encompasses an area of approximately 8,000 acres.

The purpose of both the Mill Creek and Doan Brook Watershed Studies was to develop comprehensive approaches for controlling wet-weather impacts on the respective streams. The Sewer District has only a portion of the responsibility for total watershed planning in these study areas. However, the Sewer District has gone beyond its traditional jurisdictional role to consider the impact of all potential pollution sources in the study areas (i.e., Combined Sewer Overflows, Sanitary Sewer Overflows, stormwater, etc.), as well as the impact of flooding and high-velocity wet-weather flows. Because the ultimate recommendations of the studies involve solutions outside the Sewer Districts' jurisdiction, particularly in the areas of stormwater, floodplain, and biotic community management, the Sewer District recognizes the need to involve stakeholders throughout the process.

Expanding the planning effort to the watershed level has inherent pitfalls, as well as benefits. This paper will discuss both the problems and the benefits associated with watershed studies. It will include a discussion of the cost and effort involved in actually performing the watershed studies, as well as the potential for overall cost savings and creativity in developing final solutions. Although watershed studies themselves require a significant investment in data collection, and effort in public involvement, the resulting solutions are more likely to be cost-effective and accepted by the public.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-01-01

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