FLOW’s Water Steward Program

FLOW’s Water Steward Program kicks off March 22.

FLOW is working with the Ohio Water Resources Center and the Sierra Club to create an active group of Water Stewards in the Lower Olentangy Watershed. These stewards are dedicated to a sustained hands-on effort to quantify the health of our stream waters through the monitoring and reporting of chemical and macroinvertebrate indicators in several of its tributaries.

In order to be a part of the FLOW Water Steward Program you must be trained in WARN (Water Alert Report Training) and either the Water Sentinel (water chemistry) or the macroinvertebrate sampling methods (or in all three areas). After completing the required trainings, the Water Stewards will be grouped with one or more persons and assigned a sampling site close to their chosen geographical area (when possible) which the team will then sample in the spring, summer and fall. If this kind of stewardship is something that you would be interested in participating in please join us for the following training sessions.

Warn Training
Where: OSU Wetlands
The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park
352 Dodridge St., Columbus
When: March 22, 7:00
RSVP: info@olentangywatershed.org

Details: WARN Training is required to be a water steward. However, it is likely that we will hold another training session sometime in late spring. Please let us know if you are interested but unable to attend.

Water Sentinel Training
Where: OSU Wetlands
The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park
352 Dodridge St., Columbus
When: March 29, 7:00
RSVP: info@olentangywatershed.org

Details: Water Sentinel Training will enable you to test the chemical components in the water. This training is optional and if you choose not to do this training, we will try to pair you with someone that has had this training. You may try to take this training at a later date. Data collected from this training will be used by both FLOW and the Sierra Club to track stream health. Supplies will be provided for each team.

Program Overview Meeting and Introduction to Macroinvertebrate Sampling Methods
Where: Veritas Community Church
345 E. 2nd Ave., Columbus
When: 7:15-8:30pm, April 4, 2016
RSVP: info@olentangywatershed.org

This course is optional. If you are not interested in macroinvertebrate sampling, this meeting and training is not required.

This meeting will provide insight into the kind of time commitment that will be required of you and your team (1-2 hours, 3 times per year), an overview of the sampling and identification process, and how all the data will be compiled and used at FLOW. If you wish to do Macroinvertebrate Sampling and are unable to attend this meeting, please let us know and we will send you information regarding the in-field training.

Hands on Field Training for Macroinvertebrate Sampling, Equipment Dispersal and Site Assignments
Where: Adena Brook, Whetstone Park, Clintonville
When: 1:30-3:30pm, May 1, 2016

During this event, FLOW Water Steward Trainers will walk you through an actual macro invertebrate sampling process and work with you to identify the various critters that you might find at your own site. You must have attended WARN training prior to attending this event unless other arrangements have been made with FLOW for future training events.

First Sampling with a FLOW Water Steward Trainer
You will each have an assigned site that you will visit with your team three times every year. This first visit you will be accompanied by a FLOW Water Steward Trainer. The trainer will show you your access points and walk you through the process so that you have the confidence you will need to go out on your own in the summer and fall.
Locations and dates to be determined based on team and trainer location and availability.
As a Water Steward
Once you have done your chemical and macroinvertebrate sampling, you will provide your results to FLOW so that they can be compiled into both an overall annual report as well as be used to track your specific location over time. You and your team will visit your site two more times this year. We will track the results of the sampling and share these with you on our website and hold a year end meeting so you and your fellow stewards get a chance to meet and share stories of success and fun in the streams!
If you are interested in becoming a FLOW Water Steward and we look forward to seeing you and guiding you through this opportunity to work first-hand to improve the quality of our streams.

Resident Canada Geese Management – Flow Public Meeting

Canada Geese enjoying the Scioto Mile.

Canada Geese enjoying the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus.


Please join us for our next public information meeting 7 pm on December 7, 2015!

Our guest lecturer will be Jeff Pelc from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). He will be speaking about resident Canada geese and how to effectively manage damages associated with them. He will touch on their life history, protection status/laws, and management techniques, including examples from the Olentangy river project.

345 E 2nd Ave
Columbus, OH 43201
(Veritas Community Church)

We will have a RAFFLE for FLOW shirts and a few other prizes, and we would love for you to participate!

Clintonville Area Pilot Project – BluePrint Columbus

Adena Brook in Clintonville is the site of a pilot project by the City of Columbus to investigate “the best method for eliminating the sanitary sewer overflow into Adena Brook in Whetstone Park.” The goal is to determine the best methods to reduce the amount of rain water that makes its way into the sanitary sewer system, causing the overflows. In addition, the city will be investigating green infrastructure options for updating its stormwater system. The goal of these updates is to clean and reduce the stormwater flow and help to protect our ravines and streams.

“Open House Events” are scheduled to provide a general overview about the project. The next open house will be held at Whetstone Shelter House 6 – 8 p.m. on June 29, 2015. Six additional neighborhood meetings will be held in July to provide specific information on the green infrastructure planned for specific streets.

For more information please visit the City of Columbus website for the Clintonville area pilot project, or view a short video about Blueprint Columbus.

Fifth Avenue Dam Removal

The 5TH Avenue lowhead dam was removed in August 2012, and the ecological restoration project began as pool levels were reduced above the 5th Avenue Dam. The ecological and riverbank restoration project ended in September of 2014. Please see the links below for details on the dam removal and river restoration efforts undertaken for the 5th Avenue dam project.

For more information:
5th Avenue Dam Project, Department of Public Utilities, City of Columbus
July 2014 5th Avenue Dam e-newsletter (PDF – 2.8 MB)
5th Avenue Dam Removal and progress with the Lower Olentangy Ecosystem Restoration Project
Proposed Removal Plan by Stantec (PDF – 11MB)

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens, which are depressions planted preferably with native plants, are another means to address stormwater issues. The deep root systems of the native plants allows water to infiltrate into the ground as opposed to running down the pavement and into the storm sewers. Urban rivers are heavily impacted by large volumes of stormwater that carry pollutants picked up from rooftops, driveways and roads. If you are interested in rain gardens, please visit the Central Ohio Rain Garden website.

Rain Garden Projects

Visit the rain garden project photo gallery or read the project report from FLOW Board Member Joe Tribble

Thanks to a $10,000 grant sponsored by MillerCoors and RiverNetwork, FLOW constructed a demonstration rain garden and water catchment at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Clintonville. This installation is step one in FLOW’s goal of 10 similar projects at local schools, churches, small businesses and other institutions.

Rain gardens are specially designed and planted gardens which collect rainwater and allow it to percolate slowly into the soil, reducing storm water run-off and preventing pesticides, petroleum products and other pollutants from being swept into our streams. Rain gardens also keep storm water from overloading the local sewer system.

FLOW volunteers worked with the members of the Unitarian Universalist Church to create design for the rain garden on the church’s property at 93 W. Weisheimer Road. Construction and planting were completed in early November of 2009.

Wildcat Run Stream Restoration

In August 2011, field work began on a project to restore several reaches of Wildcat Run. The work was conducted in Liberty Park, which is located at the intersection of Home Road and North Liberty Road in Delaware County Ohio. This page is devoted to information about the project, and updates on the progress being made.

History of Liberty Park

In January 1988, the Liberty Township Trustees purchased 97 gently rolling acres from Jack and Irma Extencamper with estate tax monies.  The results of a community survey in 1987 showed a strong desire for available recreational facilities in the township, and this property, located in the geographical center of the township,is the ideal location for such a facility.  The landscape design firm of Scruggs and Hammond was chosen to design the park, and a series of community forums were held to determine the wishes of the residents.  In May  1989, a three member Park Board was appointed by the Trustees to advise, formulate policy for the park, and develop a park budget.  The grand opening of Liberty Park was held on July 7, 1991.  Since then, Liberty Park expanded to include the wooded lot and ravines south of the original site as well as a forty-acre parcel to the south, fronting on North Liberty Road where the Liberty Township/Powell YMCA is now located.

Image of a wooded stretch of Wildcat Run runs through Liberty Park.

A wooded stretch of Wildcat Run runs through Liberty Park.

Why a Stream Restoration was Needed at Wildcat Run

The Olentangy River in southern Delaware County is a State Scenic River with exceptional warm water habitat. The main stem of the Olentangy currently meets state water quality standards. However, according to Ohio EPA studies (TMDL), the tributaries of the Olentangy have been hard hit by urbanization, resulting in nutrient and sediment loading and habitat loss. None of the tested tributaries to the Olentangy River in this area were in attainment. Therefore, in the long run, restoring and maintaining the health of the tributaries through storm water management is essential to maintaining the viability of the Olentangy River as an exceptional water resource.

Wild Cat Run is typical of the tributaries in this area. This tributary drains 1.9 square miles, including the Kinsale Golf and Country Club, three schools, and a YMCA which contain a combined 600,000 sq. ft. of impervious parking areas surrounding the feeder streams. As Wild Cat Run flows on through Liberty Park, it shows signs of degradation resulting from all of this upstream development. The stream has exhibited increased flow, flooding, and an incised channel that is disconnected from the flood plain. In addition, parts of the floodplain zone within the park have been denuded and lack a riparian buffer. All of these factors combine to contribute to the potential for flash flooding, nutrient and sediment loading, and poor quality habitat for wildlife that use the stream.

Because Wild Cat Run passes through Liberty Park, it presents a unique opportunity to restore the stream, and create a demonstration site for innovative storm water practices that could serve as a model for other townships and developers throughout Delaware County, which is the fastest growing county in Ohio. Furthermore, because the site is located at one of the busiest intersections in Delaware County, with thousands of weekly park visitors, the potential for public outreach is enormous.

Stream Restoration Metrics for Success

It is expected that the proposed project will reduce the potential for flash flooding and increase the assimilative capacity of the stream to help protect the downstream exceptional warm water habitat of the Olentangy River. The Ohio State University has agreed to loan equipment to monitor pre- and post-construction flow to determine the extent to which the project achieved this goal.
The project is also expected to improve habitat scores in the restored area. A Headwater Habitat Evaluation measures some physical characteristics of a stream including the stream-channel substrate, maximum pool depth, and average bankful width. These factors help to measure the health of a stream. An evaluation was conducted in 2010, and Wildcat Run area scored an Headwater Habitat Evaluation Index (HHEI) of 41. It is anticipated that, through natural channel design, that score could be improved to 65. A HHEI score greater than about 60 suggests that the physical characteristics of the stream are conducive to a healthy headwater habitat.
The project is also anticipated to result in load reductions for the following categories:
Sediment – reduction of 61.3 tons/yr
Phosphorus – reduction of 70.4 lbs/yr
Nitrogen – reduction of 140.9 lbs/yr
Measurements of sediment and nutrient levels will be collected before and after the stream restoration to determine if the load reductions are realized.

Project Timeline

Construction for the stream restoration kicked off in August 2011. In the autumn of 2011, vegetation will be planted so it can become established over the course of several months. In the autumn of 2012, the new drainage channels came “online” by diverting water from the original waterways. Final planting was completed in December 2012.
Project Costs
Approximate unit costs for the three stream segments that were restored were as follows:
Enhancing 440 linear feet of ditch from the Central Park Pond to form a linear swale ~$20/foot
Restoring 220 linear feet of the Southern Tributary to Wildcat Run using Self-Forming Channel Design ~$50/foot
Restoring 640 linear feet of the Main Channel of Wildcat Run using Natural Channel Design ~$100/foot


Resource Links:

Liberty Township Stormwater Demonstration Project