NORTH RIDGEVILLE

The city is hoping to receive a $3.5 million grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to help pay for retention ponds to alleviate flooding along Mill Creek.

The city plans to build five large retention ponds off Lear Nagle Road to catch and impound water to help reduce flooding from Mill Creek in the nearby neighborhood along Gina and Gail drives and Pitts Boulevard. The overall project, which ultimately would help water quality and benefit wildlife, is expected to cost $5 million, City Engineer Dan Rodriguez said.

North Ridgeville has budgeted $1.5 million for the project’s design.

“Under this plan, water will be contained to the east instead of to the west,” Rodriguez said. “Focusing on that area will help the Gina, Pitts and Gail Drive neighborhood residents, which is what is needed. We’re trying to make much-needed improvement in that area.”

North Ridgeville applied for the ODNR grant in December and hopes to receive an answer this spring.

Increased flooding has damaged homes and businesses in the community the years, with storm runoff coming from highways and from development in multiple upstream communities. Flood levels have increased, and according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency study conducted in 2008, Mill Creek flood flows enter the city at a rate of more than 45,000 gallons per minute.

The city has no timeline for the project, but officials hope it can be completed within the next five years.

“Not only would this project benefit North Ridgeville, it would benefit the other communities that are downstream all the way to the lake,” North Ridgeville Mayor Kevin Corcoran said. “In a sense, this is a regional project.”

The project calls for diverting a portion of the water from Mill Creek on the land with more than a mile of a swishback. A meandering channel will be built connected to a series of five retention ponds. The site will handle an estimated 40 million gallons. The ponds and channel will slow and impound water, reducing the amount of water in Mill Creek and flooding in the nearby neighborhood.

The retention ponds will be placed throughout 30 acres of a triangular-shaped piece of land between Boulder Drive and Creekside Lane just west of the North Olmsted border. The city first planned four retention ponds and now is planning for five.

The project also will address water quality with regional benefits.

North Ridgeville lies within the Mill Creek and French Creek watersheds, which encompass 24,000 acres of land. The watersheds drain 10 communities and empty into the Black River a few miles from Lake Erie in Lorain.

Land-use changes within the watershed — primarily development that has converted farmland that once absorbed the water into impervious surfaces that require the water be pushed away — have altered flooding patterns and frequencies. The changes also have had an impact on wildlife and water quality throughout streams and Lake Erie.

The channel will then tie back into Mill Creek farther downstream. The water will enter at a much slower rate.

The project, called the Mill Creek Conservation and Flood Control Area, also will create and enhance about 41 acres of aquatic wildlife habitat, according to information from the city. The project also calls for creating nearly a mile-long nature trail and a separate bike trail that would be just under a mile long and built along the southern side of the area.

Planners also said their design will improve water quality because the topography drops 22 feet through the project area, which will add dissolved oxygen through waterfalls and ripples in the creek as well as remove sediment and nutrients in the water.

“We’re not sure at this time if we’ll receive the full amount of the grant,” Rodriguez said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Contact this reporter at msakal@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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