U.S. EPA National Community Decentralized Demonstration Project

CRWP recommends that communities adopt zoning and stormwater management regulations facilitating the use of distributed stormwater practices to minimize the impacts of development. Distributed stormwater practices include riparian and wetland setbacks, conservation development, bioretention, alternative flow paths, vegetated swales, functioning open space, and other site design and stormwater best management practices (BMPs) that collectively serve to maintain, to the extent possible, the pre-development runoff hydrology of a site.

Chagrin River Watershed LID Demonstration Projects

The purpose of the Chagrin River watershed LID demonstration projects is to address the barriers in Northeast Ohio to the widespread implementation of low impact development to site design and stormwater management. The barriers to widespread application of distributed stormwater management in Northeast Ohio include:

  • Lack of Guidance for Distributed Stormwater Management: Developers and community engineers, planners, and other professional advisors, are reluctant to use distributed stormwater management techniques without guidance and technical support specific to the climate and soil conditions of Northeast Ohio.
  • Minimal Flexibility in Local Codes to Allow Distributed Stormwater Management : Developers and engineers interested in distributed stormwater management are constrained by existing zoning codes that may not allow for alternative site layouts, currently require enclosed drainage channels, and provide little or no provisions for stormwater quality management.
  • Lack of Demonstration Sites of Distributed Controls: To date a handful of projects in Northeast Ohio have implemented distributed stormwater controls. These projects have been limited to public or “green” projects and have not addressed the time, planning, and cost limitations faced by most commercial and residential projects.

To address these barriers this project includes technical support, education, and funding to design, construct, and monitor four low impact development demonstration projects. Information gathered from these demonstrations will address concerns about the role of soils, climate, and maintenance in the applicability of these practices to Ohio.

Water Quality and Quantity Monitoring

Design and construction of all four demonstration projects was completed in 2008. Water quality and quantity data for the various practices is monitored through partnerships with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, the U.S. EPA National Research and Monitoring Laboratory, with additional funding from the Lake Erie Protection Fund. The Cuyahoga County Health Department also provided assistance with sample collection during portions of the sampling program. Results from the monitoring program continue to be developed and presented to CRWP Members and the larger planning and engineering community in Northeast Ohio through selected workshops and training events. The U.S. Geological Survey published Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5165 Hydraulic Characteristics of Low-Impact Development Practices in Northeastern Ohio, 2008–2010 in October 2011 describing the hydrologic performance of the LID BMPs at the Sterncrest Drive Retrofit Project in Orange Village and the Innovative Storm Water Management System at the Cawrse & Associates Inc. site in South Russell.

Final Technical Report

Runoff reduction is central to the effective utilization of LID management strategies for the control of stormwater quantity and quality. This project provided technical support to local governments and professional service providers and education to the general public and public officials of Northeast Ohio concerning the emerging advancements in LID stormwater management. The construction and monitoring of the demonstration project sites continues to provide proof-of-concept water quantity reduction results and water quality treatment outcomes that support and guide the wider implementation of LID management strategies within the Chagrin River watershed.

The primary objectives to build regional support, improve specifications, refine codes, educate designers and end users by illustrating LID BMP performance through demonstration projects has been achieved, however, further study, development and implementation of BMP techniques remains.

Additional objectives completed include:

  • Successful adoption and update of model stormwater and erosion and sediment control regulations codes by 90% of Member communities,
  • Adoption of riparian setback codes by 45% of Member communities. Increased knowledge level of local design and community engineers on LID BMP design and construction.

Implementation of LID BMPs are increasing in part due to CRWP’s presentation to local officials and entities in which over 30 LID workshops were held covering LID techniques such as rain gardens, riparian and wetland setbacks, downspout disconnection and long-term maintenance for practices during the project period.

Although the results of this study, Demonstrating Innovative Approaches to Distributed Storm Water Management in Northeast Ohio, 2004-2011, only answer basic best management practice questions regarding bioretention swales, pervious pavers and rain gardens, it is clear that these practices can effectively reduce runoff volumes and seasonally treat pollutants of concern within the soil and climatic conditions of Northeast Ohio. Variability in the seasonal and long-term performance of such practices remains in question. This variability highlights how meteorological factors such as rain event amount, duration and intensity can influence annual performance efficiency of LID BMPs.

This project began to answer many questions about the use of LID techniques in Northeast Ohio. This region has become a leader in Ohio in the number of LID BMPs installed, knowledge level of local engineers and state regulatory officials, and level and amount of training on LID BMP design. At the onset of this project very few LID BMPs were installed in the region, now multiple bus tours are conducted each year to highlight practices and developments completed using LID techniques. CRWP is continuing our work to promote the implementation of LID stormwater systems across the entire Ohio Lake Erie Basin by continuing to address barriers to implementation, gathering additional data on local BMPs, building capacity of local stormwater professionals, and developing tools to effectively guide communities and consultants toward more sustainable stormwater management.

For more information on this project please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (440) 975-3870.