Cuyahoga River Ecosystem Restoration Canal Diversion Dam Project Final EA
In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA), the National Park Service (NPS), Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) have prepared the Final Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Cuyahoga River Ecosystem Restoration Canal Diversion Dam Project. The EA evaluates a range of alternatives for the modification and/or removal of the Canal Diversion Dam in the Cuyahoga River within the boundary of Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CUVA).
The Ohio EPA has concluded that the Canal Diversion Dam negatively affects the water quality of the river and interrupts aquatic communities. These impacts result in the failure to achieve the goals of the Clean Water Act and the State of Ohio's Water Quality Standards (WQS). The purpose and need of the Canal Diversion Dam project is to identify an ecological restoration strategy to improve the water quality conditions of the river while upholding the mission of protecting and preserving resource values of the park.
Based on the analysis presented in the EA, the NPS selected Alternative 3 because it best meets the purpose and need for the project while minimizing adverse effects to the Ohio and Erie Canal. In Alternative 3, the Canal Diversion Dam would be completely removed, the feeder gates would remain in place, and the river would be restored to grade levels that provide a natural, free flowing regime. Due to elevation changes resulting from the complete removal of the Canal Diversion Dam, the Ohio EPA will fund, design, build and operate an active watering system for the Ohio and Erie Canal to divert an appropriate amount of water into the canal in order to retain a water level sufficient to preserve its cultural value and avoid adverse effects. Alternative 3 will not have significant impacts on any environmental resources.