Watershed restoration reaches a critical stage

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Mon, 07/24/2006 - 23:05.

Putting the pieces together to form a comprehensive GIS map of our region is a formidable task but as i mentioned earlier - very possible with the proper resources, planning, collaboration, and expertise.  The open source proposals for East Cleveland will be exciting opportunities to do this innovatively on a smaller scale with cutting edge technology.  Demonstrating transformational outcomes delivered with a novel approach and toolset could open the eyes of many to the greater opportunities open source provides.

  It is so important to understand the interrelationships between landscape design, waterways/ watersheds, storm drainage, urban sewage systems, water treatment, and so on.  Its really fascinating how once you start to read, learn, and explore- a greater appreciation of the system as a whole (the ecosystem) results.  One very important watershed in our region is the Doan Brook -  there may be an imminent and significant decision made regarding the future of this restoration project, which has long been opposed by Dennis Kucinich and the Cultural Garden Federation.  They claim the project would disrupt the natural landscape by cutting into two gardens and sacrificing a number of trees, among other things.  Yet the brook's restoration could play a key role in the oxygenation of other waters, enhance aesthetic appeal and help increase the biodiversity within the region.  As Keith Bowers of BioHabitats put it:

The emergence of Doan Brook from its buried confines will also celebrate the natural heritage of Cleveland and reunites the community to a landscape feature that was immensely popular a century ago.

The sewer district will assess the situation and their engagement in the $5.5M restoration project could fit in well with plans to become involved in regional stormwater management.  The final decision, which will be made with the aid of outside consultants, would be critical - either the project would be backed and accelerated - or scrapped altogether.  There would be threat of litigation by the state should a significant conservation effort not be made as the Ohio EPA allowed a major wetland region (88 acres and mile of Abrams creek near Hopkins airport)  to be sacrificed under the condition a major compensatory rivitalization (i.e. Doan Brook) be completed.

  As the article states, No urban restoration project of this scope has been attempted before in Ohio, which is one reason for the high cost.   Done effectively this could become a model for restoration  projects nationwide - hence the great interest of the EPA and many other conservationists and nature lovers in general. 


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Doan Brook problems from on high?

I don't know what I think about the MLK end of Doan Brook - I really love the whole cultural gardens, WPA stone walls, etc... perhaps naturalizing is a good change - I'm open to that. But I want to hear more talk about the Doan Brook of the heights, because it is disgusting in Shaker. I grew up at Attleboro, by the Duck Pond, and that used to be lovely but becuse of the Shaker Country Club golf course and all the fertilized yards around here it is all covered in this bright green scum - I feel so sorry for the Blue Heron that lives there as its legs must be getting cancer... I'll take some pictures, but it seems we don't look at all the issues of Doan Brook (although there is some monitoring system there now) - what is going into the brook and flows to Lake Erie worries me more than how it comes out at the end, and if there is flooding that is from on high... from the Heights down to the lake it is fast flowing and I doubt much new toxin enters the system... the problem is on high, and they can afford to fix that. How about eco-friendly lawn and golf-course care, and cisterns for runoff, for example? Anyone know about these issues?

Disrupt IT



O.k. Norm, get ready for “eutrophication 101”.  The “green” terminology is “algal bloom”; the green scum is algae.  Before we disparage algae, we have to remember that someday some kinds of algae may be major food sources.  Flamingoes are pink because they have a diet reach in blue-green algae.

Anyhow I have copies of  2 studies relating to the algae problem in Green and Marshall Lakes in Shaker Heights.  Shaker Heights hired Enviro Science to study the algae problem and evaluate “the effectiveness of and potential impact to water quality of a bioaugmentation project” on the 2 lakes in 2003.  A product manufactured by GES of Cleveland (a mixture of Liquid Live Micro Organisms)was applied in the hopes that the LLMO would consolidate nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus in the water, thus making these nutrients unavailable for algal growth.  It was also imagined that LLMO applications would reduce the sediment build-up on the lake bottoms and so help to postpone the time when expensive dredging would be needed. EnviroScience submitted their evaluation in November 2003.

Study # 2 was done by SBR Technologies: Algae Blooms in Lakes of Shaker Heights Ohio, Causes and Solutions. It found that “there was no reduction in phosphorus levels after treatment with LLMOs compared to data from an earlier year when there was not treatment.  They recommend that “legislative and educational initiatives be directed at eliminating the use of phosphorus-containing fertilizers”.  Shaker Heights opted for the magic treatment which was purportedly going to eliminate both the algae and the need for dredging rather than address the cause and try to change landscape behavior, not an easy task, as Sudhir has pointed out.

Now Shaker Heights spent 75k and maybe more on this project, mainly because there were complaints, similar to Norm’s I bet, regarding the aesthetics.  As this second study points out, it is necessary to limit the input of phosphorus in order to control the algal blooms.

Zebra Mussle, what do you think?

the end may fix the beginning

Good points re: the upstream pollution

The possible downstream conversion from walled-in (culverted) stream to natural banked stream with functioning wetlands will likely do much to purify the water before it runs into our great lake.

But, it would seem that with all the green talk in Shaker Heights, they could figure out a way to eliminate artificial fertilizers from the golf course.  What about the Nature Center's laudable lawn program?  Or, what about the work of Good Nature Organic lawns?  Either way, there is an application for local knowledge and local experience that could improve local quality of life for all organisms....

Golf course connundrum

Good point with the golf courses - part of the problem here, however, is that some of the laudable lawn strategies - retaining grass clippings, not worrying about seasonal brown patches, etc represent nightmares to the golfer demanding the most precisely cut , smooth, green, surfaces to play on.  And while I'm completely supportive of organic alternatives like Good Nature it remains to be seen whether the product could provide superior or equivalent outcomes  the courses want.   Finally, the cost issue comes into play as well.   That's a lot of lawn to potentially pay significantly more for (i'm not certain of the pricing but typically organics are priced higher).  

And talk about a lobby to contend with - the Chemlawns, etc of the fertilizer world - so much work could be done in raising awareness to these toxin propagators to change their formulations of fertilizers and pesticides.  A major CSR (corporate social responsibility) project there.

Lots of opportunity here - forums and dialogues - facilitate buy in - where are the nature lovers  that love to golf?   Rise up and DISRUPT IT!  Make the first 'greened greens' your favorites and compel the others to follow suit.


Millionaires can pay a little more $ for green everything

In looking at the above map of Doan Brook the problem is pretty easy to track. One stream starts around the toxic zone of Warrensville Center Road and Chagrin (where does that begin?)... and one stream starts in the richest neighborhood in NEO... South Park at Hathaway Brown School, again by Warrensville. Horseshoe Lake's rich toxic stream runs past the Shaker Lakes Nature Center and through the gorge down into University Circle - the other Chagrin stream seems to originate at and is clearly polluted by the Shaker Heights Country Club (and the Highland Hills Cemetery) from start to the Duck Pond, at which point it is toxic. I know everyone on the Horeshoe lake stream is MEGA-rich, and everyone who is a member of Shaker Country Club is MEGA-rich. They are the problem, and they can pay to fix it, even if the solution is completely rebuilding the river basin from University Circle to the Lake, as well as getting these rich people to do right things with their country club, cemetery and lawns. To divert this problem to the poor is unacceptable. Tell me if I am wrong about any of this, please.

Disrupt IT

oh golf!!!!

This is concerning... is golf the problem? George Carlin suggests that golf courses should be retrofitted to house the poor. However, thinking about this runoff issue and the idea of a golf course at the east end of Burke Lakefront is worrisome...
Martha knows a ton about the Doan Brook issues. I do hope she will respond to inform us about the issues.

from a health perspective

I wonder if we might address the chemical lawn issue via concerned parents. They might ask their school districts about lawn care and chemicals used on school grounds and as these issues are raised, they might ask themselves the very same questions? Is what I have the lawn care company spray on my lawn good for my children? Mothers can be convincing lobbyists once informed. I am not aware of the research around this. Does anyone know where to find the links that say Quebec used to outlaw the stuff?

or pediatricians

Guaranteed! If we had research that would speak in a cautionary tone to parents via Their children’s pediatricians, that would cut back on chemical applications. Where is the Rachel Carson of our time?

and veterinarians

I was talking about Susan's posting today with the fascinating, insightful and remarkably cool Bill MacDermott (who drives a Prius - go Bill), of Cleveland Solar and Wind, and he was impressed to see on REALNEO people speaking up about real environmental hazards people introduce into their homes and immediate environment here in NEO, and all over America. In addition to our pervasive Chemlawn-mentality, he brought up the example of all the people who have the Orkin Man (household pesticides) sprayed all over their homes and that all the children living in these environments will be having liver problems in their 20s.

Then he suggested if anyone wants to hear first hand knowledge of how all these friend and family-inflicted toxins will harm closely-related victims, talk to veterinarians about all the dogs dying young of liver failure... I posted on the issue of leaded pets and feel for many who have empty nest and DINK mentalities, spotlighting cancerous Golden Retrievers is the best way to get the anti-toxin message across

Disrupt IT

the professor/historian and the mechanic

The other night Martha and I attended a book signing to meet and hear Ted Steinberg talk about his book on lawns.  http://www.gcbl.org/events/laudable-lawncare-lecture-07-27-2006

When asked about the history of grass lawns, he said that they just sort of happened as a phenomenon of the postwar boom. Dad's wanted to have a tidy place to throw the ball around with his kids. This sounds like an oversimplification to me. Maybe he covers it in his book more thoroughly, but that pat answer did not satiate my curiosity. I had lived through that and had already recognized this suburban fascination with grass.

Here, a local eco-friendly mechanic and individual citizen who researches, thinks and writes about climate change, CO2 emissions and global warming and actually does something helpful for his customers as well as his readers gives us a deeper look at the history of lawns.
The intro of this page is a good one to pass along to your born-again friends and neighbors who obsess over their grass -- the ones who need to be informed with humor over time, not doused with an ocean of ecofundamentalism.

I asked Ted Steinberg if he had raised the issues of Scott's and Chemlawn outlawing with the elected officials in his town Shaker Heights. No he replied, I am an historian, I am writing about it. I continue to wonder, since when does being an author relieve you of your responsibility as a citizen? If you are shocked that people don’t know that they are spreading disease causing, ecosystem disrupting chemicals where their children will ingest them and where they will runoff into the brook and the lake and rearrange our environment, then shouldn’t you say something? Even if it is not to Congress?

Sam Bell (owner of the Lusty Wrench) is a citizen activist and a damn good mechanic.
He even took time out of his day to testify before the EPA. (be ready to us your search function as Sam's testimony is way down there on the page). http://epa.gov/tier2/nprm/t2clvlnd.txt

Dogs, Lawn Chemicals and The Ghost of Rachel Carson

Well, I thought I knew a little bit...  But you know what they say about a "little knowledge" and all that :-)

So......I “Googled”  Dogs and “lawn Chemicals” and got 27,600 hits http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Dogs+and+%22lawn+chemicals%22&btnG=Search

Interestingly enough, the second one down was from David Beach’s  EcoCity Cleveland site



Googling Dogs "liver failure" "lawn chemicals" resulted in 150 hits


Including this one that I found interesting:


.....which contained this note:

“Lawn chemical report: Evidence shows that lawn chemicals are linked to development of cancer such as lymphosarcoma in dogs. To receive a report on lawn, garden and household chemcials hazardous to dogs, other pets and children, contact the Rachel Carson Council Inc., P.O. Box 10779, Silver Spring MD 20914.”


.....the Rachel Carson Council’s site currently is at:


...and it contained a lot of information, including:

"Our Common Ground:"
A New Year Resolution for the First Family's Scottish Terriers

According to the eminent veterinary epidemiologist, Dr. Lawrence T. Glickman (School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University):
Scottish terriers have an 18 times greater risk of developing bladder cancer than mixed breed dogs. This risk is increased fourfold with exposure to phenoxy-type herbicides. Herbicide Exposure and the Risk of Transitional Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Bladder in Scottish Terriers
Government statistics report that these herbicides have been some of the most frequently used lawn chemicals in our country.

Among Scottish terriers being treated for bladder cancer are the pets of a Congressman and a former Cabinet official of the Bush White House. These dogs are reported to have played on the White House lawns.

Since the White House lawns and gardens are not now organic and free of toxic-chemicals wouldn't it be wonderful to begin the New Year with this Resolution:
Our nation's White House lawns and gardens will be now and forever treated only organically, to be kept free of all chemical pesticides, for the health of our First Family's dogs and of all the children and citizens who will visit "their" house.
....and on down the page....

Snoopy, Spokesdog for Toxic-free Lawns

Two years ago Mrs. Charles Schulz agreed to license out Snoopy as a "spokesdog" against the use of toxic chemical pesticides on the lawns where pets and families spend time together. She generously donated the services of the flying ace beagle to Rachel Carson Council to accompany the statement: Snoopy only lands on toxic-free lawns! Make sure YOUR yard is chemical pesticide-free for the safety of yourself, your children, and your pets. It is a fitting legacy for Snoopy's creator, Charles Schulz who cared deeply about the well-being of children and dogs

Lastly, the link to the large Snoopy page at:  http://members.aol.com/rccouncil/ourpage/#snoopy yielded, (at a quick glance...),

What makes some chemically treated lawns
especially dangerous for pets?
Snoopy and his fellow dogs, like miners' canaries, are sensitive to some pest control products commonly used around the home and yard.
When it comes to risks posed by certain lawn care chemicals, dogs exhibit a degree of vulnerability that even responsible, caring owners may not realize. A few examples follow.
Immediate toxicity
Dogs have developed anorexia, loose stools, vomiting, ataxia and incoordination, hypersalivation, and tremors after exposure to phenoxy herbicide-treated lawns.
The Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received approximately 100 calls during the late 1980s on adverse effects in dogs associated with the phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D (Beasley, V.R. & H. Trammel).
In addition to the signs noted above, muscle weakness and myotonia (muscle stiffness of the hind legs) have also been noted in 2,4-D poisoned dogs (Osweiler, G.D. et al).
But the majority of such poisoning events are not reported to the APCC. Rachel Carson Council continues to receive reports of ill effects in dogs after exposure to various lawn pesticides.
In humans, symptoms of 2,4-D poisoning can be coughing, burning, dizziness, temporary loss of muscle coordination, fatigue, and weakness with or without nausea (Kamrin, M.A.), as well as vomiting, and severe, or migraine headache (personal communication, Haugen, C.).
Two canine cancers have been associated with chemical herbicides: cancer of the urinary bladder in Scottish Terriers (Glickman, L.T., et al) and canine malignant lymphoma in various breeds (Hayes, H., et al).
In people 2,4-D has been associated with non-Hodgkins lymphoma (Zahm, SH & A. Blair).

Laboratory rodents were found to have higher rates of brain cancer after exposure to high levels of 2,4-D (Aug. 31, 2000, EPA OPP Memo).

Hope this will add some fuel to the fire... 


(a "pesticide free" homeowner for the last 24 years)

Buried past

Time to revisit our buried creeks--

Norm, the flash flooding we just experienced today 7/17/2009 should wake some folks up, but then it's just back to sleep, again. 

Water?  Not my problem...think again.