A project to restore a leg of the Chagrin River in Gates Mills is underway, supported by funding from an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant. The village is working to improve the water quality and stabilize the bank at Old Mill Road and Chagrin River Road.

The $349,578 project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2019. Gates Mills received a $209,747 grant from the Ohio EPA for the project in April 2018. The part of the river included in the project runs through three private properties – St. Christopher by-the-River Church and two residences – and those property owners will contribute the $139,831 difference.

Councilwoman Sandra Turner said that based on the direction that the river flows, water is being directed to the west bank of the Chagrin River at Old Mill and Chagrin River Road. She said that the constant rush and power of the water is eroding the stream bank, and this project will redirect the water into the center of the river. The engineering is delicate, Dr. Turner said, to ensure that water is not diverted to the east bank instead.

“Addressing erosion issues will enhance both the life of the river and property values,” Dr. Turner said. “It will reduce maintenance over the longer term, and protect downstream neighbors as well.”

Dr. Turner said that the project will restore the stream channel and stream bank, install habitat structures, remove or treat invasive plant species, stabilize the stream bank and plant trees and shrubs in the riparian area. The riparian area is the interface between land and the river. Nearly 366 linear feet of riverbank will be restored. Gates Mills manages the grant, but hired Davey Resource Group to design and complete the project, according to Dr. Turner.

Alicia Beattie, associate director of Chagrin River Watershed Partners, said that a bioengineering approach will be used for this project.

“We are trying to find a long term solution to bank stability,” she said. “There’s erosion along the Chagrin River in that area.”

Ms. Beattie said that Davey Resource Group will use a combination of rocks and native plants with deep roots to stabilize the bank.

Dr. Turner also said that the project is unique because of the collaboration between various groups, including the Village of Gates Mills, Chagrin River Watershed Partners, the Gates Mills Land Conservancy and residents who have part of the river on their property.

“Projects on private properties are rare,” Dr. Turner said.

Davey Resource Group began drawing the designs in October of 2018. Dr. Turner said that the village plans to host festivities over the summer to educate the community about the project.

Amendments to the Clean Water Act in 1987 established the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program to address the need for greater federal leadership to help focus state and local efforts, according to the EPA. Section 319 states that territories may receive technical and financial assistance, education and training.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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