East Branch Rocky River now in attainment of Clean Water Act standards for the first time
Cleveland Metroparks was joined today by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to celebrate the completion of the Bonnie Park Restoration Project in Mill Stream Run Reservation. The project, which began in 2018, improved water quality and habitat in the East Branch of the Rocky River, restored nearly five acres of vital wetlands, permanently protected 65 acres of existing high-quality wetlands adjacent Bonnie Park, and added a new accessible riverside overlook.
The main component of the restoration project was the removal of the lowhead dam that impeded the natural flow of the East Branch of the Rocky River for decades, restricting fish passage and disrupting macroinvertebrate populations. The dam, which formerly powered a mill until the early 1900s, has been replaced with several riffles and pools that provide aquatic habitat and together restore approximately 3,400 feet of the river channel.
Since the removal of the dam, the East Branch of the Rocky River is now in attainment for both fish and macroinvertebrate populations, a clear sign of significant water quality and habitat improvements of the Rocky River that flows into Lake Erie. This marks the first time that the East Branch Rocky River system has been in attainment of the Water Quality Standards Program for biology since the Clean Water Act was instituted.
"Cleveland Metroparks has nearly 1,000 streams and three large rivers under its protection that feed into Lake Erie and are critical sources of our region’s clean water,” said Brian M. Zimmerman, Cleveland Metroparks CEO. “This restoration project has already had strong ecological impacts for the East Branch Rocky River and the entire watershed up to Lake Erie and also enhances opportunities for fishing and viewing wildlife at this historic park.”
The project also restored nearly five acres of wetlands and floodplain and removed excess impervious surfaces that caused harmful sediment runoff and flooding.
The Bonnie Park Restoration Project was supported by a $1.88 million award by the Ohio EPA through its Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program (WRRSP). The project was sponsored by the City of Akron and supported through partnerships with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District and Rocky River Watershed Council.
New interpretive sculptures were installed throughout Bonnie Park as part of a partnership with CrossCountry Mortgage supporting education of the outdoors. The interpretive sculptures utilize stonework from the former dam to share the history of the area including an augmented reality presentation near the new overlook that takes guests back in time to the area in the 1800s.
Two photo monitoring stations at Bonnie Park, installed prior to construction, provide park guests an opportunity to contribute to a time-lapse evolution of components of the project:
# # #