The Chagrin River watershed is at a critical level of development, with approximately 9% of the watershed covered with impervious cover. As the watershed continues to develop, the impervious cover is estimated to increase to approximately 17%. Today, most of the streams within the Chagrin River watershed are high quality and continue to attain their designation aquatic life uses. However, there are areas where residents and communities experience erosion, flooding, and water quality problems. CRWP works with communities to ensure as the watershed continues to develop, the high quality streams are maintained and these problems areas are resolved. To accomplish this goal, a wide variety of tools from land acquisition, planning, storm water management, riparian setback regulations, restoration, and retrofits to existing development sites are all needed.

Analysis of the entire CRWP riparian corridor system indicates that current state of cover in the system is: 43% forest; 29% herbaceous; 21% open water; 4% shrub; 3% impervious cover. In addition to investigating the amount of forest, shrub, and open areas within the riparian corridors, this study allowed CRWP to investigate the continuity of forest cover and the relative integrity of the riparian corridor. This will assist CRWP in recommending riparian setback regulations to CRWP member communities. Currently there are 13 communities within the Chagrin River watershed that have adopted riparian setback regulations. In addition, the Village of Waite Hill has an environmentally sensitive areas ordinance that minimizes impacts to streams, wetlands, and steep slopes. The stream corridors protected through the local zoning codes in the above 14 communities represent 47% of the stream miles within the watershed. CRWP continues to work with all of the remaining CRWP members to adopt the riparian setback regulations. This study, Targeting Best Management Practices and Monitoring Stream Hydrology in the Chagrin Watershed: Analysis of Riparian Corridor Connectivity and Urban Stormwater Infrastructure (pdf 3.84MB, published in 2008), ranks communities with high quality riparian corridors that should focus on riparian setback regulations.

This study also highlighted priority areas where BMP implementation or retrofit would be appropriate to restore streams and minimize flooding and erosion problems. The areas for potential retrofits include the Ward/Newell Creek subwatershed, Stoney Brook, and the headwaters of main channel of the Chagrin River. CRWP will continue to work with Member communities on adoption of best local land use practices, sound planning, stream restoration, and BMP construction and retrofits. This project assisted in focusing those efforts. In addition to the above recommendations for adoption of riparian setback regulations and BMP retrofit locations, CRWP developed a stormwater infrastructure data dictionary to ensure a consistent data collection methodology that could assist in refining the selection of BMP retrofits in the future.

This report was prepared by Chagrin River Watershed Partners, Inc. under award NA05NOS4191090 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of Commerce through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Office of Coastal Management. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the Office of Coastal Management.

Please visit the Riparian Setback Model Regulations page for more information about riparian setbacks.