Kent takes pride in its eco-friendly, outdoor recreation, green-thumbing community sustainability sensibility. Like a lot of cities with universities in them we’ve got our fair share of progressive thinkers and big dreamers both on and off campus, and that often translates into vocal protection of natural resources and the terra cotta of Mother Earth. Take a look at our west coast cousins in Cal Berkeley who just ended their 21 month tree sitting protest. I noticed some war protests going on in Kent this week but no tree sitting at the moment. Hopefully that’s because we’ve worked hard to treat our natural resources with the care they deserve and I’m pleased to report it’s working. Here’s an update from the State of Ohio EPA on the improvements in the Cuyahoga River thanks to the Kent Dam Project.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that is the least bit involved in Kent’s section of the Cuyahoga River to discover that Bob Brown, the City of Kent’s Water Reclamation Facility Manager, has his thumb on the pulse of what’s happening in the river. Unlike a lot of casual river observers, Bob’s job depends on a healthy river and he takes that job seriously.
In the old days, wastewater plants were considered the bane of rivers. It wasn’t that unusual to have raw sewage bypassed into rivers when flows became unmanageable. Now I can’t speak to the old days here in Kent and the Cuyahoga River but I suspect Kent suffered from those common problems.
But I can speak to the present and trust me this is not your grandfather’s wastewater plant. To make his point Bob doesn’t even call it a wastewater or sewer plant; instead he chooses his words carefully and refers to Kent’s Water Reclamation Plant. I like Bob’s spirit. He’s not just in the treatment business, he’s in the reclamation business. He’s taking dirty water and making it clean again. You can’t get much more environmentally friendly than that.
It’s no coincidence that Kent’s portion of the Cuyahoga River has turned the corner and is now showing healthy indicators across the board. Kent’s Dam Project has proven to be one of the most environmentally friendly things we’ve ever done in the river. It’s amazing what a little oxygen and flow can do for all the aquatic plant life and organisms, big and small, including a lot of fish.
In a 400 yard sampling of the Cuyahoga River right around Main Street they found 1,600 fish. Sure, some were the small stuff, but if you read down the list they found some big fish too like a Redfin Pickerel.
You’re welcome to read all 84 pages of the report, but if you’re in a hurry here’s Bob’s cliff notes to me about the findings:
Following a river sampling survey in 2007, the Ohio EPA has released a report titled “Cuyahoga River Aquatic Life Use Attainment Following the Kent and Munroe Falls Dam Modifications”. It can be found at the Ohio EPA web site.
While the report is quite extensive, there is a Summary which essentially states that the former Kent Dam pool is now in attainment of Ohio EPA’s water quality standards. It is great news that all the work we did from 1999-2005 has finally paid off. This should also be good news for the proposed water park project.
However, the former Munroe Falls Dam pool is currently only meeting partial attainment of water quality standards. The lacking piece of the puzzle in this dam pool is an adequate fish population, which the EPA feels will improve as this section of the river stabilizes over time. They strongly feel that it will meet standards after the next survey.
While this is great news for our little part of the world, I also have been informed that the Ohio EPA is announcing that a much larger segment of the Cuyahoga River further downstream has also met water quality standards.
Steve Tuckerman from the Ohio EPA has also agreed to answer any technical questions. He can be reached at 800-686-6330.
Here’s an article from the Akron Beacon Journal on the same topic: