Canal Diversion Dam Removal
Purpose of the Project
The purpose of the Canal Diversion Dam Removal Project is to allow restoration of both the riverine habitat and ecological health of the Cuyahoga River, upstream from the dam’s location at approximately River Mile 20.7. This is just upstream from the State Route 82 bridge that connects Sagamore Hills Township in northern Summit County to the City of Brecksville in Cuyahoga County. Completion of the project will remove a barrier on the river to Lake Erie fish migration and a safety hazard for paddlers. It will also assist in the removal of Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) within the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern that are associated with fish populations, benthos, and habitat. This project is listed as an implementation action in the US EPA-approved Lower Cuyahoga River Total Maximum Daily Load (for watersheds that do not meet the water quality goals of the Clean Water Act).
The managing partners involved with this project are the Friends of the Crooked River (FOCR), an environmental nonprofit, US EPA’s Region 5 Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), Ohio EPA, Ohio Lake Erie Commission, National Park Service (NPS)/Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP), the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), the City of Akron, and the Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization (NEFCO). The permitting agencies include the Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), State Historic Preservation Office, US Army Corps of Engineers, and NPS. The property owners include the NPS/CVNP, ODNR, Ohio Department of Transportation, and Cleveland Metroparks.
US EPA’s Region 5 Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) and the Ohio EPA are funding the project. NEFCO received an $800,000 grant from US EPA in 2019 for the Canal Diversion Dam Removal Project. Friends of the Crooked River (FOCR) is the subrecipient of the NEFCO’s grant and is the implementor of the project. Other project moneys include Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) funds from the City of Akron and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). In 2017, FOCR received access to $900,000 in SEP funds from Ohio EPA for the project. Those SEP funds are from the City of Akron’s federal court consent decree regarding its combined sewer overflows abatement implementation. SEP funds provided by the NEORSD will be for the long-term operation and maintenance of the needed river water pump station.
NEFCO is experienced at grant writing and is managing the $800,000 US EPA grant. The funding from the GLNPO grant is essential for completing the project. NEFCO is responsible for tracking this funding and for providing grant progress and financial reports to US EPA Region 5.
Progress to Date
Demolition of the Canal Diversion Dam by FOCR’s contractor began on May 21, 2020. The 1952 Canal Diversion Dam was constructed of concrete and steel reinforcement bar. The 1827 Pinery Dam was located a few yards upstream from the Canal Diversion Dam and was constructed of wooden timbers that were still intact when they were removed by the project’s contractor. Both dams were removed by early summer 2020. By mid-August 2020, clean-up and riverbank stabilization had been completed. The final phase of the project is the installation of an Archimedes screw pump by FOCR’s contractor. The screw pump is needed to provide river water once again to the adjacent historic section of the Ohio & Erie Canal in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. By early summer 2021, FOCR’s contractor had completed getting the needed electric power to the screw pump installation site and was awaiting a December 2021 delivery of the pump. Installation of the pump is expected in late January 2022.
For further information or to answer questions regarding the Canal Diversion Dam Removal, please contact Tom LaPlante.