Nature returns to an urban creek
Urban development in Cleveland left Big Creek, a tributary of the Cuyahoga River, a polluted mess that was prone to flooding. An ambitious restoration project returned the creek to a more natural state. The project reduced polluted runoff and created wetlands and other habitat that benefited fish, wildlife and people who live near the creek.
A group of government agencies and private engineering firms developed a plan to restore nearly one mile of Big Creek, which was disfigured by decades of urban development. Intense development increased the volume of polluted stormwater that flowed into the creek, the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. Human activities also straightened the creek, separated it from natural floodplains and destroyed wetlands. The restoration work removed large debris from the creek, stabilized eroding stream banks, replaced defective culverts, created wetlands, reconnected the creek to the floodplain and restored its natural meander. Crews also planted native vegetation along the restored stream banks.
Resource Challenges Addressed
- Soil erosion
- Non-point and point source pollution
- Excessive stormwater runoff
- Loss of wetlands
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
BIG CREEK WATERSHED STORMWATER MANAGEMENT
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Approximate cost: $923,758
Key partners: The cities of Parma and Cleveland, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, the city of Cleveland’s Division of Water Pollution Control, the engineering firms DLZ and Biohabitats
Types of jobs created: Environmental engineers, hydrologists, ecologists, biologists, excavators, landscape architects and landscapers
Results and Accomplishments
The restoration work created wetlands and other habitat for fish and wildlife and restored a more natural flow in the creek. The work also curtailed flooding and reduced the volume of sediment and other pollutants that wash into the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie following rain showers or periods of snow melt.