SOUTH RUSSELL — Davey Resource Group of Kent recently completed a project to reduce flooding and water runoff problems that have been giving South Russell Village residents a tough time since the 1980s. The village already is working on future projects to mitigate those issues even more.

Village Mayor William Koons said the first project, which was completed two weeks ago, required Davey to install a new retention pond outside of Village Hall. The village paid $74,000 of the $186,000 project thanks to a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Mayor Koons said.

“The retention pond catches water that comes from the neighborhood, it catches it, holds it so that the water will soak into the ground and then slowly releases it to the next neighborhood,” Mayor Koons explained.

He said that the excess water originates upstream in the Kensington neighborhood before beginning to travel downhill, passing through the new retention pond and then on to Chagrin Lakes neighborhood.

Davey also developed a wetlands area in South Russell Village Park on Bell Road, for much the same reason as the retention pond, the mayor said, to curb the flow of water by absorbing it into the marshy land.

Mayor Koons said the village sometimes is hit with a large storm that serves to exacerbate the water buildup, causing some residents’ homes to flood and incur thousands of dollars of damage. The most recent of these occurred on March 28 when more than 40 residents reported water entering their homes.

He said insurance companies usually will only cover flood damage claims once or twice; after that, residents are left on their own. “I know one resident who has not remodeled his basement since the last storms, because he said it’s going to happen again.”

But these tempests aren’t regular. The mayor said floods have occurred in 2018 and 2015, when water flowed over the village’s portion of Chillicothe Road, a major thoroughfare cutting through Geauga County.

These problems can be traced back to 1988, a time when Mayor Koons said land developers dammed many of South Russell’s creeks to free up land and create the 20 or so scenic ponds and lakes that decorate many of the village neighborhoods. Now, he said, recent construction projects have caused these bodies of waters to fill with silt.

“Instead of the water flowing into a nice deep lake, it goes into a shallow lake and then it flows sideways and into the neighbors’ yards. It doesn’t flow out of the Village like it should.”

The next step, he said, will be to perform a stream enhancement to alleviate flooding problems on Chillicothe Road as well as Manor Brook Drive estimated to cost $460,000. He said the village will be able to discuss the enhancement further at a public meeting in July. The village will be responsible for about $180,000 of the next project, he added.

“It’s a little different from a pond,” Mayor Koons said. “It takes a stream and widens it and holds the water. Same concept, you’re catching water and holding it and just slowing it down.”

Mayor Koons took a handful of residents on a brief tour of the project sites on Wednesday to give them an idea of the scope of the completed project.

These new installations come at a time when residents living along two of South Russell’s private drives have appealed to the village for flooding-related help. Representatives from both Paw Paw Lake Drive and Sugar Bush Lane have been meeting with the village Street Commission to discuss potential solutions.

“It’s brought us to the table to see what we can do to help these communities, to let them know the government is here to help them, that we can work together,” Mr. Koons explained. “They’re very willing to take on their burden, but they need some help and we think we can help them.”

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