Spring 2003 Voice of the Mill Creek Newsletter, Mill Creek Watershed Council

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Voice of the Mill Creek
Spring 2003
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Mill Creek Watershed Council Supporting jurisdictions include: Amberley Village Butler County Cincinnati Colerain Township Elmwood Place Evendale Fairfield Fairfield Township Forest Park Glendale Greenhills Hamilton County Liberty Township Lincoln Heights Lockland Montgomery Millcreek Valley Conservancy District Norwood Reading St. Bernard Sharonville Springdale Springfield Township West Chester Township Wyoming GOLD MEMBERS Butler County Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati City of Springdale Fuller, Mossbarger, Scott and May XCG Consultants, Inc. SILVER MEMBERS Environmental Rate Consultants Village of Evendale

Ohio EPA receives Mill Creek loading report
The Mill Creek Watershed Council leaped the final hurdle in meeting its obligations to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) by submitting the draft Mill Creek TMDL Nonpoint Source Load Reduction Report to the agency on June 13th. The report provides estimated nutrient load reductions for existing and proposed projects that should reduce the overall nutrient load from nonpoint sources within the watershed. Projects are further described in a comprehensive table that identifies project locations, their sponsors, and the estimated dissolved nitrogen and total phosphorous load reductions where quantifiable. The report also lists projects where load reductions are not currently quantifiable (either due to the nature of the project or the limitations of the current mechanisms for calculating load reductions) but should intuitively have a strong impact on reducing nutrient loads within the watershed. Projects that fall into this category often include public education as a key element. OEPA is reviewing the submitted document and it is expected that the material presented will be incorporated in the their revised Mill Creek TMDL Report due out later this summer.

Council changes proposed
In an effort to rejuvenate member and volunteer participation in Council meetings and events, the following bylaw revisions are being proposed:  Switch committee structure from standing to an ad hoc project-based format,  Revise election process to include election of Water Quality, Flood Damage Reduction, Watershed Awareness, Economic Development and Recreation Chairs annually. (Chairs will coordinate related ad hoc committee activities), and  Switch to a quarterly, rather than bi-monthly, Full Council meeting schedule. Voting will take place at 10:00 am on July 25th Council Meeting in the City of Wyoming Council Chambers.

Capture the Creek
Art Exhibition & Sale October 4th, 7:00-11:00 pm Cincinnati Museum Center

Local Artists Dinner & Live Music!
Visit our website at: www.capturethecreek.com or call 513.563.8800 for tickets and information.




Voice of the Mill Creek
Erosion control work protects wetland
A five-acre wetland next to the Mill Creek in Butler County looks better now that trees, shrubs and erosion control materials have been installed. OKI Regional Council of Governments sponsored the project upon the advice of Dr. Craig Straub, a restoration ecologist with the JF New company, and Dr. Michael C. Miller, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Cincinnati. They had noticed that the Mill Creek was undermining the streambank and washing away soil where the stream enters the wetland, just downstream of the SR 747 bridge. With the help of five volunteers, OKI and Dr. Straub did the restoration work along 180 feet of streambank on June 5 and 6. More work will follow, based on needs identified by Dr. Straub’s adaptive management approach to ecological restoration. For this project, Dr. Straub advised OKI to purchase:  6 trees (6 to 12 feet tall)  25 redosier dogwood cuttings  25 cuttings of buttonbush
    

50 pounds of live oats seed 5 pounds of red top grass seed 165 feet of coir matting 60 feet of one-foot diameter coir rolls 90 wooden stakes, a roll of twine, 5 tying tools, and 500 8inch metal staples

yond the manufacturer’s specifications by driving iron rods through the coir rolls and dozens of extra stakes into the matting. Located in the Port Union area of West Chester Township, the wetland occupies land that was once a flat, featureless cornfield behind a farm dike. The site is now gently contoured with ponds and islands, high spots and low spots, all of which provide better habitat for native plants and animals along the Mill Creek. Schumacher Dugan Construction, Inc., removed the farm dike, made the site available through conservation easement, and donated $98,000 worth of earthwork. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency provided OKI and project partners with federal funds under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. The Mill Creek Watershed Council has been a key partner since it helped OKI prepare a winning grant application in 1999 and provided $3,000 for project costs.
Submitted by Bruce Koehler, OKI Regional Council of Governments

OKI found a local supplier for the trees. Shemin Nurseries, which is next to the Mill Creek in Sharonville, delivered two sycamores, two green ashes and two river birches. The balled and burlapped plants weighed up to 400 pounds each, forcing the volunteers to improvise ways to move a ton of trees without a Bobcat or a weightlifter. As often seems to be the case at the floodplain wetland, the restoration work was soon put to the test by heavy rains and a rapidly flowing Mill Creek. The strong current pushed over two trees but did not dislodge the submerged coir rolls at the toe of the streambank nor the matting on the upper bank. It probably helped when project workers went be-

The Mill Creek floodplain wetland in West Chester Township changed noticeably between late May (left) and early June (right). Trees, live stakes, matting and coconut fiber rolls have been placed alongside the stream to control erosion and stabilize the streambank. (OKI photos)




Voice of the Mill Creek
High waters and high spirits on the Mill Creek
All but two of the Mill Creek’s 28 miles have now been canoed by people who like to explore our fascinating urban stream and the number of people who have braved the health warnings to float down the Mill Creek during the past decade is nearing 300. The story behind these statistics can simply be stated as follows: Despite two centuries of abuse, the Mill Creek is a resurgent waterway with historic, recreational and scenic value. Recent outings of the Mill Creek Yacht Club, a loose-knit group of people who have experienced the stream from the seat of a canoe or kayak, show that public demand for Mill Creek recreation is more than just a fad. In late December and early March, generous precipitation made it possible to add another seven miles to the total miles traveled by canoe on the Mill Creek. With some shoving and dragging, the canoeists have now covered the 26 stream miles from Hamilton-Mason Road in Fairfield Township to the Ohio River in Cincinnati. A well-timed outing after a passing rainstorm should allow canoeists to launch a mile farther upstream in Liberty Township, which is home to the Mill Creek’s headwaters and its source. The final mile can be covered by creek walk, an activity that is sponsored by the Mill Creek Watershed Council. On Saturday, April 19th, the Ninth Annual Mill Creek Cleanup by Canoe drew 22 volunteers in the waInterstate 75 construction at the intersection with Mill Creek in Butler County. OKI Photo

ter and several more on land. They used shovels, spud bars, pick axes, ropes, ratchets, hatchets, bolt cutters, saws, knives and a lot of muscle to liberate a dump truck load of junk and garbage from a mile-long section of the Mill Creek dividing Reading and Lockland. Among the treasures turned over to the landfill were bicycles, shopping carts, a washing machine, the hood of a car, a tractor-trailer fuel tank, yards of muddy wet carpet and way too much plastic. On June 7, the Yacht Club joined up with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission, Metropolitan Sewer District and OKI Regional Council of Governments to give the students of Field Studies in Ecological Restoration an educational tour of the lower Mill Creek and its massive sewage treatment plant. The 19 participants were treated to many sightings of blackcrowned night herons— Ohio’s only inland colony of the less than common bird. For their amuse-

ment, the canoeists fished seven basketballs out of the water and concocted genus-species names for unmentionable types of Mill Creek flotsam. Thirteen newcomers joined the Yacht Club that day. Each one got the highly coveted Yacht Club T-shirt and a handshake. On June 14, three Yacht Club veterans covered nearly nine miles of the upper Mill Creek. Under the leadership of Dr. Michael C. Miller, a professor of aquatic ecology at the University of Cincinnati, they inspected and photographed stream conditions, both good and not so good, from SR 747 in West Chester Township to Columbia Avenue in Reading. Rain-swollen flows allowed the threesome to float into a streamside stormwater detention pond in Sharonville and paddle up a segment of the Beaver Run tributary from Forest Park and Springdale.
Submitted by Bruce Koehler, OKI Regional Council of Governments




Voice of the Mill Creek
Mill Creek estuary spring home of many species of young Ohio River fish
The lower Mill Creek is a unique and valued local natural history resource in southwest Ohio On May 23, 2003 a team from University of Cincinnati examined the fishery of the Mill Creek at the Hopple Street Viaduct during high water that flooded the four-foot pipe crossing that normally makes a waterfall at the site. After thirteen days of flooded conditions, we proposed that the fish should be the same above and below the pipe crossing. The surprising fact from this boat electrofishing survey was the number of Ohio River species that were using the Mill Creek Estuary during the spring floods. Eleven species were caught in a sample of only 134 fish. The diversity based on this sample size was high. Although the pipe crossing waterfall was flooded by several feet of water, differences in depth and in riparian zone, found only 53% overlap in the fisheries above and below this pipe crossing. The surprising discovery was a run of one year old white bass, emerald shiners, carp, drum, gizzard shad and quillback in the Mill Creek. Predators were present as well including some large sauger. Most of the fish-eating birds depend upon the nursery for young-of-the-year fish that migrate into the Mill Creek to breed. The migration of Ohio River fish, including large (greater than four pound) buffalo and carp, up the flooded Mill Creek provides the food base for one of the most prolific rookeries for herons in Southwest Ohio. The fish-eating great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, green herons, and kingfishers were dense along the lower Mill Creek. The rookery of state endangered black-crowned night heron, one of three in the state, was occupied with mating pairs. Many trees had been washed out by the several rains during May. However, the healthy riparian trees in the lower 1.7 miles of the Mill Creek remain a unique resource despite the noise of the railroad yard on the East side and the Mill Creek Water Reclamation Plant on the West side of the Mill Creek. It is perhaps the only estuary of the Ohio River in this area that is not dominated by motor boats and human disturbances.
Emerald Shiner
Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources

to MSD to enhance the habitat of the Mill Creek at Hopple Street site and an old road crossing a the North end of the Mill Creek plant.
Submitted by Dr. Michael C. Miller, professor and aquatic ecologist, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cincinnati.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Photo by Jesse Cohen, National Zoological Park

CALLING ALL SHUTTERBUGS! Have you photographed anything beautiful, unusual, or noteworthy related to the Mill Creek watershed?
Submit pictures (limit 3) by December 1st for display and judging at the January 2004 Council meeting. Prizes will be awarded!
Email (subject “Contest”) to: [email protected] or mail to: 1 N. Commerce Park Dr., Ste 222, Cincinnati OH 45215

A proposal has been submitted




Voice of the Mill Creek
Corps Corner
Update on Army Corps Mill Creek projects Nagle, of Sunesis, who has 26 years of civil construction experience. First, clearing will be done followed by dirt work where the channel’s slopes will be repaired by a five-member crew. The rock or “rip rap” crew will repair the channel by reinforcing the toe of the slope. The “flood plain bench” or channel will be made to meander, or curve, rather than flow straight. The channel will be stabilized with environmental features – not only rock. Many types of plants will be used to emulate a more natural setting or “riparian corridor” near Salway Park. Container plants, bare roots, cuttings and tubings will be spaced randomly to encourage natural vegetation. The Mill Creek Restoration Project suggested which plant species to use. Live stakes and live posts, which are cuttings from trees, will be planted to hold sod together, giving stability to the bank. Planting will take place in the fall when the plants are dormant so they will successfully take root. An access drive along the edge of the channel is also part of the project. Sometimes, debris can become lodged in the channel or brush overgrowth occurs and repairs need to be made over the course of time. An access roadway for maintenance is necessary for equipment to remove the debris and for any needed repairs. This pathway can be made as a natural component of the channel if the right construction material is used, according to project engineer Chris Nuetz, Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville. “We may use special types of mats or articulated blocks which allow vegetation to grow through and over,” she said. “As long as the design provides a road which will not wash away due to erosion.”
Submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District

Salway area channel repairs to start soon
As part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mill Creek flood protection work, Section Three will soon be under construction. Approximately 2,500 feet of channel near Salway Park will be repaired. Section Three is approximately 1.5 miles long, from Salway Park to the CSX Transportation Bridge, upstream from Mitchell Avenue. The repairs should be done in the fall of 2003. The contractor for the project is Sunesis, in West Chester, Ohio. Heading up the construction is project manager Eric
Council Currents

Nancy Ellwood, Executive Director Mill Creek Watershed Council

It seems only yesterday everyone was complaining about the rain. This past weekend I saw reminders of last year’s drought … birches and willows turning yellow, dust clouds rising off the interstate construction areas, and cars with “wash me” written on their sides.

iad influences of water as we continue to pursue means to reduce flood damage reduction, manage stormwater runoff and to reduce the pollutant loads in our streams.

The Council will celebrate it’s 10th anniversary in two years and I hope by then we have some answers to the issues that face our watershed today and that we are seeing improvements in our water quality It’s a reminder that life on earth revolves around and in our ability to handle wet weather events. As water or the lack thereof. Two atoms of hydrogen long as we continue to work together towards comand one of oxygen—simple in structure yet amaz- mon goals I am convinced that the fuingly complex in its importance to our lives. ture for the Mill Creek will be bright. Things here at the Council also focus on the myr- Call me an optimist.

Mill Creek Watershed Council
One North Commerce Park Drive, Suite 222 Cincinnati, OH 45215

Newsletter also available in color at: www.millcreekwatershed.org


Voice of the Mill Creek
Upcoming Events: July 25, 8:30 am Mill Creek Watershed Council Executive Committee meeting at the City of Wyoming Municipal Building Conference Room (800 Oak Avenue). Call Nancy Ellwood 513.563.8800 for more information. July 25, 10:00 am Mill Creek Watershed Council meeting. City of Wyoming Council Chambers (800 Oak Avenue). Call Nancy Ellwood 513.563.8800 for information. October 4, 7:00 pm Capture the Creek 2003 Art Exhibit and Sale. The second Capture the Creek event will take place between 7:00 and 11:00 pm on Saturday, October 4th at the Cincinnati Museum Center. Artworks from 33 local artists representing the spirit of the Mill Creek will be on display and will be sold at the silent auction. The evening includes a reception, dinner and live music. The event is formal and advanced ticket purchase is required. Tickets will be $50 person and will be available on-line and by mail on August 1st. Check the www.capturethecreek.com website for information or call Nancy Ellwood at 513.563.8800.

For more information, contact: Nancy Ellwood, Executive Director Mill Creek Watershed Council One North Commerce Park Drive Suite 222 Cincinnati, Ohio 45215 Phone: 513.563.8800 Fax: 513.563.8810 E-mail address: [email protected]. Website: www.millcreekwatershed.org

Council Mission: To promote the improvement of the Mill Creek watershed to create integrated environmental, aesthetic, recreational, and economic benefits for present and future generations.

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