First Euclid Creek Watershed Summit Recap

On November 12, Euclid Creek Watershed Program partners came together to celebrate the successes of the program over the past fourteen years. This meeting was the first of its kind in gathering all watershed communities, watershed council and committee members, Friends of Euclid Creek members, and partner agency representatives in one room to meet and greet and to learn more about how each facet of the program works to create the whole Watershed Program.

For years each committee has been meeting separately, so Chris Vild, Watershed Council Chair representing Beachwood and Claire Posius, Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator, decided to try out the Summit idea and get everyone together. Attendees were excited to see all of the work that has been done in the watershed and agreed that a Watershed Summit should continue annually to keep the discussions and momentum going. Key members of the program discussed their agency, group or committee’s role in the program (for the agenda and presentation link: click here)

The meeting consisted of an overview of the program and water quality issues by Claire Posius, Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator from Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD). Next Jan Rybka, SWCD District Administrator, discussed how the program began and how SWCD began hosting the Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator position. Next, Chris Vild discussed the Euclid Creek Watershed Council history and its Committees: the Public Involvement Public Education (PIPE) Committee, the Euclid Creek Volunteer Monitoring Program Committee (ECVMP) and the Technical Committee. Lou Rifici of Tri-C-Eastern Campus and Manager of the ECVMP talked about the program history and structure and the crucial role volunteers play in monitoring in the Creek and watching its condition on a regular basis. Friends of Euclid Creek’s President Christi Carlson discussed the history and highlights of the nonprofit watershed group and Dr. Roy Larick discussed an exciting initiative in Euclid and Cleveland focusing on the Bluestone Heights watersheds that surround Euclid Creek.

Highlights from the evening include Ms. Posius’ recounting of education and outreach highlights from Watershed Fact Sheets, Rain Barrel Workshops, to Rain Garden installation projects; restoration wins from dam removals to wetland and stream restoration projects; land preservation wins from the Dusty Goldenrod protection to the 155-acre Acacia Reservation; to exciting Green Infrastructure projects being implemented in the Watershed Council communities to reduce storm water volume and improve water quality in the watershed. Perhaps the most potent presentation was by Bill Zawiski of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency who discussed a water quality survey of Euclid Creek conducted in 2015. While not final results, they found that the water quality in Euclid Creek overall appears fairly good for an urban watershed. They found Bacteria issues in the watershed and Conductivity, Chlorides and Total Dissolved Solids were all elevated likely as result of road salt use. Lastly, fish populations were not meeting Ohio EPA standards. Ohio EPA plans to continue sampling in 2016 to investigate problem areas further.

What’s interesting about our local watershed groups in northeast Ohio is that each is formed with a different structure. Tinkers Creek Watershed Partners is a nonprofit group with a Board made up of watershed residents and professionals and their staff person works for the nonprofit. Chagrin River Watershed Partners is also a nonprofit with a Board of Trustees made up of the 35 member communities in the watershed and they have a staff of five under the nonprofit. Most of the groups have one paid staff person, and some started as grassroots-led efforts while others were driven by municipalities in the watershed. The Euclid Creek Watershed Program is its own unique makeup, with the grassroots non-profit Friends of Euclid Creek group, the municipality members who make up the Watershed Council and the one paid staff person housed at Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District – a unique structure alltogether.

As a brief history of how the Euclid Creek Watershed Program began, the Watershed Council started meeting informally in 2001 to discuss flooding issues in several of the watershed communities, and the group decided that a watershed approach to their common environmental, storm water and development concerns could be the most effective way toward solving problems resourcefully. The Watershed Council then formally organized with the establishment of by-laws as an operational organization with governance in 2004. In the beginning years, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) obtained an Ohio Lake Erie Protection Fund grant to start a watershed program in Euclid Creek to assist communities in the watershed and to assist communities in complying with US Environmental Protection Agency’s storm water program. Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) served as host for the watershed coordinator position. A grant was then obtained from Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the Watershed Coordinator to develop a master plan for the watershed restoration called a Watershed Action Plan (WAP), and the plan continues to be implemented today. Also in the beginning of the program, Friends of Euclid Creek, the nonprofit watershed advocacy group began meeting as a response to the development of Legacy Village in 2001. The group obtained non-profit 501(c)(3) status in 2003 and now works to raise awareness about and preserve the natural features of the Euclid Creek Watershed.

If you would like to learn more about the program history and accomplishments, please visit the website at www.EuclidCreekWatershed.org, join our Facebook page, or email cposius@cuyahogaswcd.org to receive monthly email updates about Euclid Creek Watershed Program and volunteer opportunities.

Blog Author: Claire Posius, Euclid Creek Watershed Coordinator

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