National Benchmarking for Design the Edge

About the Great Lakes RegionCUYAHOGAMAPRAPAOC

The Cuyahoga River empties into Lake Erie at Cleveland, Ohio. This river is part of the Great Lakes region and is fed by a watershed populated by 2.1 million people. This site is infamous for the 1969 fire that led to the formation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Water Act.


About the Project

Under the direction of Jim White, executive director, Cuyahoga Remedial Action Plan (RAP), and American Heritage River Alliance (AHRA) Navigator for the Cuyahoga, the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization (CRCPO) recently launched the Cuyahoga/Lake Erie Environmental Resource Technology Center (CLEERTEC), a joint RAP/AHRA initiative to create economic development opportunities through innovative technological solutions for environmental restoration and protection. CLEERTEC’s first project has been to develop Green Bulkheads, prototype high-performance shoreline management systems to replace the aging sheet steel bulkheads that currently line the Cuyahoga’s shipping channel. Green Bulkheads are essentially pocket wetlands that function as a refuge for larval fish in the navigation channel. These pocket wetlands also help restore riparian and wetland habitats. This project was awarded $495,000 from the US Army Corps of Engineers through the FY2006 Water Resources Development Act. These funds were also supplemented by an in-kind match from Ship Channel stakeholders. White’s funding plan stems from direct involvement of private investment to yield federal funding, which in turn yields future returns to the regional economy.


Cuyahoga Green Bulkhead Design Criteria:

  • No/ limited protrusions into the water body; construction should be behind the line of the bulkhead.
  • Located along bank and constructed so that physical structures would:shipchannelwskyline
    • Not accumulate passing floating debris.
    • Have the ability to avoid damage from ice scour.
    • Have the ability to absorb or dissipate propeller wash without damage.
  • Easily accessible by swimming fish:
    • Opening through a solid bulkhead of at least: 4 ft.
    • Minimum linear length of at least 25ft.
  • Vertical dimension of any opening cut through a solid bulkhead to be 6 ft. below water surface, and:
    • Tall enough to provide water access, to accommodate projected fluctuations in water level.
    • To be of certain size and spacing to exclude adult carp.
  • A minimum surface area of at least: 300 sq. ft. to support adequate vegetation to function as a fish refuge.
  • Soil depth of 12 - 24” to provide an adequate root zone for habitat plants.
  • Variable habitat depths:
    • Ranging in depth from 12” to 24” for larval fish, Minimum Bottom Surface Plane (mbsp) 100 sq. ft.
    • Deeper habitat from 12” to 72” for predator fish, (mbsp of 200 sg. Ft) with some bottom structure.
    • Provide these depths as lake levels fluctuate (suggests a sloped bottom structure)
  • Adequate underwater riverside bottom and slope stabilization to slumping or destabilization by boat wakes/propeller wash.
  • Provides plants and structures to benefit habitat for birds and other terrestrial life.
  • Emphasis on design that replicates natural habitat with native aquatic plants.
  • Minimal on-going maintenance requirements but still easily accessible for maintenance, if necessary.
  • Located, where possible, in conjunction with related green space / trail elements from the lower river and flats area.

 Images courtesy of the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization website.

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