When the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) was tasked by the U.S. EPA to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into Mill Creek, an urban stream and tributary of the Ohio River, MSD evaluated green solutions rather than the underground storage tunnel and treatment facility EPA suggested. Ultimately, MSD developed a green solution known as the Lick Run Project that met CSO reductions at more than $150 million less than the proposed tunnel.
The Lick Run Project is comprised of 12 projects, including the Quebec Heights Sewer Separation Project which marks the first large-scale stream restoration project completed by MSD. Based in a drainage area in Glenway Woods Preserve in Cincinnati, the project restored an ephemeral stream, eliminated direct inlets to the combined sewer system, retrofitted an existing storm water detention basin and rehabilitated an existing sewer. A naturalized open channel with step pools, ledge rock cascades and log vanes was created to treat storm water runoff, and 50,743 native plugs and 229 trees were planted. Additionally, 6,021 ln ft of combined brick sewer and 29 manholes were rehabilitated.
Because the site is located in a forest preserve, one obstacle the project faced was coordination with stakeholders. MSD worked to collaborate with the Cincinnati Park Board to negotiate construction limits, easements and restrictions on tree cutting and restoration.
“As the project manager, I am proud of the coordination with stakeholders and the excellent working relationship with MSD’s construction contractor to complete the project on schedule,” said Project Manager Ian Laseke. “It is no small feat to take a project from planning to the end of construction.”
MSD also worked to complete tree cutting activities on a timeline, due to the location of trees on the site that were potential habitats for two endangered bat species, the northern long-eared bat and the Indian bat. Weather posed an additional challenge that caused the project to be delayed from February 2018 to June 2018.
“The Quebec Heights Project is an innovative way to remove nearly 12 million gal of storm water from Cincinnati’s combined sewer system and help reduce CSOs into the Mill Creek,” said Leslie Schele, manager of MSD’s green infrastructure group. “Its benefits include improved water quality, creation of new habitat, providing an opportunity for environmental education and creating a community amenity.”
The restored stream now is a community amenity with walking paths and educational opportunities, as well as significant benefits to the water quality of Mills Creek and the Lick Run watershed.