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Urban Area Bioretention Cells

TMACOG has been awarded a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to build a system of bioretention cells in an urban Toledo neighborhood. A grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will fund the design and construction of two large bioretention areas on vacant land near Belmont and Forest in central Toledo. The land is currently delinquent, owned by the City of Toledo or the Lucas County Land Bank. By converting the property to stormwater infiltration treatment areas, neighborhood residents and Lake Erie will both benefit.

The area of the combined cells is .75 acre. They will serve a 4.3-acre neighborhood. During periods of heavy rains, stormwater will be directed to the cells through a system of curb cuts and pipes. Water will be held and slowly infiltrate through engineered soils.

The project is expected to reduce sediment loads by 75 percent. Reducing sediment would remove an estimated four pounds of phosphorus and 28 pounds of nitrogen from the water per year. These nutrients have been shown to contribute to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. In the central city neighborhood where the cells will be built, some sewers are still combined sanitary and storm sewers. Holding some stormwater outside of the sewer system will reduce or prevent combined system overflow during heavy weather events. Combined sewer overflow results in untreated sewage/stormwater being discharged to area waterways without treatment.

“We’re returning this property to productive and attractive use,” said Matt Horvat, Maumee River coordinator and project manager of the Belmont Forest project. “We are converting vacant land to something that will help to treat runoff and ultimately help in the health of Lake Erie.” He points out that the bioretention cells are not ponds. They will be dry most of the year, planted with native species that thrive in both flood and drought circumstances.

Horvat is coordinating the construction and planting project with other work being done in the Junction Avenue neighborhood. TMACOG Stormwater Planner Kari Gerwin has been working with the Junction Avenue neighborhood group. She is helping residents to incorporate a variety of stormwater management features in the neighborhood redevelopment plan. Horvat is directing installation of the bioretention cell project in the area. “The funding for our work is coming from different sources,” he said, “but since Kari and I work together, we’re able to coordinate.” The work of both Horvat and Gerwin will benefit from educational and outreach programs that will describe the benefits of stormwater management. Both hope that the work they are doing will become a template for other urban water management plans.


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