Nine Mile Creek Watershed Project
On Cleveland’s East Side, Nine Mile Creek is a natural waterway with its source in Beachwood and mouth on Lake Erie in the Village of Bratenahl. Nine Mile Creek has an urbanized watershed of 18.5 square miles. Nearly 21 linear miles of historical channels can be identified. Currently, more than 5.0 miles of channels have been abandoned and 8.5 miles are culverted. Only 6.4 miles remain open. The stream flows to Lake Erie from the Heights area, enters a culvert (a deeply buried pipe) near Euclid Avenue and Belvoir Rd, and runs underground to the Village of Bratenahl where it becomes an open stream. This watershed configuration produces flashy and high-volume stormwater flows when exiting the lake plain culvert. Meander cut banks were eroding outward, large floodplain trees were being lost, sediment pollution was occurring, and the natural habitat was diminishing. The streambank erosion and re-sedimentation were exacerbated by the velocity of flow and the presence of failing infrastructure associated with former sewer outfalls within the stream channel. Significant water quality impairments were evident in lower Nine Mile Creek and its Lake Erie confluence area.
In 2019, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) was approached for advice and support on preventing further damage and reconfiguring the stream to make better use of the floodplain along Nine Mile Creek. Through Chagrin River Watershed’s Partnership (CRWP) with Bluestone Conservation through the Central Lake Erie Basin Collaborative, a regional program supported by the George Gund Foundation, CRWP secured an Ohio EPA Section 319(h) Nonpoint Source Program grant in the amount of $274,273.50. Additionally, NEORSD contributed more than $435,000 in cash match to the project. The design-build contract was won by EnviroScience, Inc. of Stow and RiverReach Construction of Barberton.
Using nature-based approaches, EnviroScience and RiverReach restored 2,200 linear feet of stream and made use of boulders, woody debris, branches, and log revetments to add stability to the streambanks and create additional habitat within the stream channel. The project also enhanced about 3.2 acres of riparian area with invasive species removal and native species plantings. This project will mitigate the impacts of urban stormwater at this site by improving floodplain access and reducing pollutants from stormwater flows. By reducing urban stormwater pollution, the water quality will improve and provide better conditions for fish and wildlife. Floodplains are also vital for stream stability as they reduce the volume and energy in the channel by providing overbank storage of flow and help to prevent future erosion on the streambanks.
With the project complete, Nine Mile Creek and its Bratenahl ravine now has a more natural and protected condition within the Village.
This project was financed in part or totally through a grant from the State of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under the provisions of Section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act.