Why a Demonstration Watershed? Restoration of the Cooper Creek will require mitigation of the impacts of Urban Hydrologic Alteration. While Urban Hydrologic Alteration is a major impact to urban and suburban streams around the world, examples of comprehensive, landscape-scale mitigation are illusive – because it is not easy! It will take lots of money and patient commitment to working with many, many different land owners to change the relationship between our built environment and stormwater. So where do we start? In a manageably-sized area. To see the fruits of our labor within a reasonable time period, we will need to focus and sustained effort, in one manageable area at a time, until in-stream objectives are achieved. Then we move on to the next manageably-sized area.
This is the concept behind the Demonstration Watershed. Under the leadership of Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, we have assembled a growing team of water resources managers, urban planners, researchers, and engages citizens who are committed to sustaining efforts in the Demonstration Watershed until a more natural hydrology and diverse biological community is restored.
Where is the Demonstration Watershed? The Demonstration Watershed is a 1 square mile area containing some of the most densely developed portions of the Cooper Creek Watershed. Because it is located at the very top of the Cooper Creek Watershed, the benefits of the watershed restoration activities implemented in the Demonstration Watershed will benefit the creek all the way down to its mouth where it flows to the Mill Creek.
It should be noted, that while we are currently focusing all of our watershed-based hydrologic mitigation efforts within the Demonstration Watershed, other in-stream restoration projects will NOT be restricted to this area. Further, once hydrologic objectives associated with the Demonstration Watershed are achieved, the intention is to designate a new focus area around an adjacent headwater and repeat the process until biological objectives have been achieved throughout the Cooper Creek.
Note that the yellow polygon shows the boundary of the Cooper Creek Watershed and the red polygon, the Demonstration Watershed, is a sub-watershed located within the Cooper Creek Watershed.
Objectives and Time frame: A primary objective of the Collaborative is to restore a diverse and stable community of wildlife within and around the creek. Ohio EPA has established criteria evaluating the biological integrity of aquatic communities. Accordingly, we ultimately strive to achieve full attainment of Ohio’s “aquatic life use” for the creek throughout the watershed. The clear first step in achieving this “biological lift” will be mitigation of urban hydrologic alteration.
Because examples of truly comprehensive, landscape-scale programs to mitigate urban hydrologic alteration are illusive, the time frame for achieving our in-stream objectives is not certain. In fact, we do not even have quantitative hydrologic objectives yet because we don’t know how much mitigation will be required to achieve a particular in-stream hydrologic condition, or what in-stream hydrologic conditions will begin to yield ecological improvement in the creek. These are cutting-edge questions in the field of Water Resource Management which is why we have been able to build such a top-notch research team to help up to develop quantitative hydrologic objectives for the creek as the program progresses. Learn more at our research page (coming soon).
While we do not yet have confidence in a time frame for completion of mitigating urban hydrologic alteration, to a biologically relevant extent, within the Demonstration Watershed, we estimate that we will completed our first phase of mitigation projects (those projects currently planned, and prioritized because they are perceived to be the most impactful) by the end of 2025.