GATES MILLS — After three years of grant writing, designing and execution, the bank stabilization project for the Chagrin River is complete. The village worked in partnership with Chagrin River Watershed Partners and three private property owners to stop erosion along the river bank and maintain a high water quality.
“The Chagrin River is so emblematic of the village. To have it healthy is good for property values,” Councilwoman Sandra Turner said. She said that the bank stabilization presented a unique opportunity because the village received a grant for a project on private properties.
This bioengineered project addressed erosion on three private properties, including St. Christopher by-the-River Church and two residences on Old Mill Road. The project stabilized 400 linear feet of stream bank and 7,500 square feet were planted with native vegetation, according to Alicia Beattie, associate director of Chagrin River Watershed Partners. The Village of Gates Mills sponsored a grant application to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for the project in 2016 and received $209,747, which covered 60 percent of the project costs. The three private property owners contributed $139,831, the remaining 40 percent. The total cost was $349,578.
“When there’s less erosion, there’s less sediment. Sediment is a major issue for rivers where you have banks that erode more rapidly,” Ms. Beattie said. “Sediment can smother habitats and cover over rocks in the stream and make the water more cloudy. It can impair visibility for fish.”
Ms. Beattie said that longitudinal-peaked toe stone protection was installed and filled with smaller cobblestones. Seven weir structures were also installed, which lean into each other and help deflect the river’s energy away from the bank. The weirs enhance sediment deposition and create in-stream habitats for fish and aquatic insects, she said.
Invasive plant species were also treated with an herbicide safe for use near waterways. Ms. Beattie said that various non-native plants were growing on the river bank, including butterbur, which shades out other vegetation as it spreads. The river bank was planted with live stakes and posts in addition to native, woody plants. She explained that as the plants develop their fibrous root systems, they provide long-term bank stabilization. Examples of the native species planted include winterberry, silky dogwood and buttonbush.
“Native plants provide a good habitat for wildlife and pollinators use them,” Ms. Beattie said. “Non-native plant species were removed and treated, which gives native plants opportunities to thrive and preserve historical and biological diversity.”
The project was completed in April by Davey Resource Group. Davey had a contract for $247,720, which was also covered under the Ohio EPA 319 grant, according to Ms. Beattie. Dr. Turner said that there was no cost to the village for this project. Both said that there is a long-term maintenance plan for this section of the Chagrin River so the erosion does not get worse and invasive plants do not return.
Those three property owners signed a 319 grant acceptance letter, indicating that Davey’s work and materials are insured for two years, Dr. Turner said. After that, the property owners are responsible for the routine maintenance, such as removing non-native plants.
Dr. Turner said that the project began to slow erosion soon after it was completed.
“One of the most significant results is that despite the heavy rains we’ve had this year, there’s been no further erosion,” she said. “The structures that were put into place are working and that is very early in the project. That is a testament to this accomplishment.”