Water – A Blessing and a Curse

~ by Tom Dayton

SCFB_waterWater is certainly a blessing where the State of Ohio is concerned. Rivers, creeks, small streams and Lake Erie all combine to rate Ohio as what many have called the Saudi Arabia of water.

Conversely, at times water’s too much abundance results in severe damage from flooding and erosion such as the deluge on July 10, 2013 over Copley, Norton and Barberton.

The severity and frequency of flooding of various areas in the state has been on the upswing in the past few years due to the massive storms and the ever increasing amount of impervious surfaces from residential and commercial development.

Water’s potential as a force of destruction can be appreciated in the basic law of physics in which the carrying capacity of water increases exponentially by 64 times for every doubling of its velocity. Roads, homes and even dams are easily swept away if enough velocity and volume of water is present.

After the great flood of 1913, the State of Ohio instituted the political subdivision of the water conservation district.

One such entity is the Muskingham Water Conservation District. Formed in 1933, the goal is to mitigate flooding in the Muskingham River watershed that spreads out over 8,000 square miles of the state. Another goal of the district is to conserve water for municipal, agricultural and recreational uses.

To accomplish the above goals, the conservancy employs a series of dams, wetland areas and management of forest cover around the various reservoirs.

Currently the municipalities of Barberton, Norton and Copley Township are joining forces to form the Wolf Creek Conservation District to alleviate flooding in the Wolf Creek Watershed, especially when the creek enters the City of Barberton.

Wetlands and retention basins, again will reduce flooding, although more can be done to reduce flooding by property owners reducing runoff by installing rain gardens and more permeable surfaces to lessen runoff and instead encourage water infiltration back into underground aquifers.

A “moderate” rainfall on a house roof will produce 12 ½ gallons a minute of runoff water per downspout.

Commercial properties must now install water retention basins, but could also install rain gardens and bioswales to help with water infiltration.

Farmers too, must do their part by maintaining riparian buffers along waterways managing cover crops and controlling field drainage from farm tiles especially in winter when not only water but valuable nutrients flow off the farm.

In summary, the goal of water conservation districts is for property owners to prevent as much runoff water as possible from various properties and then controlling inevitable runoff during severe rain stormsThe result would then be less flooding and destruction by Ohio’s “liquid gold” – water.