Wolf Creek/Berger Ditch Restoration PlanWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
Plan reviewed to reduce bacteria found on Lake Erie beaches
About 50 people attended a public meeting Nov. 4 at Maumee Bay State Park to review the Wolf Creek-Beaver Ditch Restoration Plan to eliminate or reduce bacteria found on the beaches there last summer.
The plan is a proposed system of ponds, floodplains and wetlands that would naturally remove and treat bacteria and excess nutrients that are causing high levels of fecal bacteria recorded along Lake Erie beaches at the state park. The plan would preserve the habitat and provide attractive natural areas.
The public meeting, held by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TAMCOG), reviewed the results of research studies tracking bacteria, wetland designs and watershed information regarding the proposed project.
The Wolf Creek Committee was appointed in 2009 to replace the Maumee Bay Bacteria Task Force that operated from 1995 to 2008, according to Kurt Erichsen, vice president of environmental planning for TMACOG.
The task force identified the bacteria problem in the watershed of Wolf Creek and Berger Ditch that includes areas in the Cities of Northwood, Oregon and Jerusalem Township. The watershed covers 16 square miles of farmlands, commercial and residential areas.
Wolf Creek empties into the Berger Ditch which empties into Lake Erie near the beaches in Maumee Bay State Park.
The highest level of bacteria and toxic algae levels related to the bacteria were found at the mouth of Berger Ditch, according to research conducted by the Department of Environmental Sciences at the UT Lake Erie Center. The study identified Berger Ditch as the primary pathway for the ecoli bacteria.
The study looked at three broad solutions for the problem that included eliminating sources of the bacteria, rerouting the stream to avoid it flowing into the lake close to the beaches, or treat the stream water.
Rerouting Berger Ditch was not a feasible solution due to the infrastructure and golf course at the state park. Eliminating the sources of the bacteria would be a huge undertaking, according to the report.
The City of Oregon already spent $8 million to expand sanitary sewers along Coy, Pickle, Stadium and Wynn Roads to reduce the amount of bacteria that ends up in Wolf Creek and Berger Ditch.
The Wolf Creek Committee recommended treatment of the wetlands to remove or reduce bacteria, pathogens and sediments in the streams with a number of natural measures. The treatment project would involve a total 44 acres, 33 acres in the park, at a cost of about $5 million.
Bob Morrison of Millbury asked why they didn’t look at issues at the front end of the system to determine and eliminate the source of bacteria rather than putting $5 million into treating the back end of it in the creek and ditch. He voiced a concern about the use of class B sewage on farmlands that is contributing to the problem.
Paul Roman, director of public service for the City of Oregon, reported that the City is doing what it can to reduce bacteria from sewage collection and treatment. He did admit that the City supplies a sludge byproduct of the city’s sewer treatment operation to local farmers for use in fertilizing their fields.
Officials from TMACOG and UT believe that the use of the sludge is a likely contributor of ecoli bacteria found in Wolf Creek and Berger Ditch. The research found seasonal trends for bacteria and phosphorous in both waterways.
The proposed plan would treat the wetlands with a surface and subsurface flow that could remove from 23 to 93 percent of the bacteria, according to Daryl Dwyer of UT Environmental Sciences. They also tested for suspended solids and sediment and found the Berger Ditch as the primary contributor of both.
The proposal would treat both low and high-flow loadings and remove suspended solids to reduce ecoli bacteria and phosphorous levels. The development of a predictable model would be used for evaluation of rapid methods to rate ecoli densities, said Dwyer.
Hull & Associates of Toledo is working with the Wolf Creek Committee to develop a design of proposed natural systems for treating the bacteria problem in the wetlands and steams. The plan would treat low and high flows and avoid the existing infrastructure of the state park.
The estimated design and construction cost of the proposed plan totals $5.35 million with $1.8 million for Wolf Creek floodplain wetlands and sediment basins with $3.5 million for terraced wetlands and vernal pools along Berger Ditch, according to Hugh Crowell of Hull & Associates.
The committee plans to pursue funding from multiple sources available for this type of project.
The full Wolf Creek – Berger Ditch Restoration Plan is available at www.tmacog.org.