Mill Creek is a small urban watershed located within Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Flowing through some of the most densely populated areas in the state, Mill Creek originates in the cities of Shaker Heights and Beachwood and flows southwest before discharging into the Cuyahoga River in Cuyahoga Heights. The Mill Creek Watershed drains approximately 18.9 square miles. The main stem stretches a total length of 12.2 miles and is a steeply graded stream with an average descent of 53.5 feet per mile. Mill Creek has a scenic waterfall located about 2.5 miles above its mouth, which is part of the Cleveland Metroparks Garfield Reservation.
Typical of many urban streams, Mill Creek has been subject to the effects of extensive urbanization over a period of more than 150 years. These impacts have made significant changes to the stream habitat, adjacent floodplains and riparian corridors, erosion and sedimentation levels, and the quantity and quality of stormwater runoff. As a result, Mill Creek is part of the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern. While this designation reflects the polluted nature of Mill Creek, it also helps to garner Federal and State commitment to cooperate with local governments, agencies and organizations to ensure that Remedial Action Plans are developed and implemented.
The Mill Creek watershed is dominated by developed lands that consist of residential, commercial and industrial uses. These developments cover 95.9% of the land within the watershed. Developed areas consist mostly of urban development with single family homes interspersed with areas of larger residential buildings, commercial and industrial development. Forested areas of Mill Creek are generally located within Garfield Park, directly along Mill Creek and within the Johnston Branch sub-watershed.
About the Mill Creek Watershed Partnership
The Mill Creek watershed effort has been evolving over the past thirteen years. The initial activities of the effort involved the creation of the Mill Creek Watershed Partnership. In 1994, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) began a watershed study of its Mill Creek service area. This area is somewhat unique in that the “sewershed” and the watershed are essentially contiguous. The study led to a number of relief projects for wet weather flow.
In 1995, the NEORSD Mill Creek Study formed a Mill Creek Watershed Protection Committee. This committee was envisioned to address some of the intercommunity concerns of existing and solvable problems and to guide the overall direction of the Mill Creek restoration effort. This committee’s concerns were watershed management as related to stormwater, aquatic and riparian habitat, and public education.
Through this initial activity, the Mill Creek Watershed Partnership (MCWP) was formed. This initial partnership consisted of citizens, businesses, agencies, and government organizations that were dedicated to working together for the improvement of the Mill Creek watershed.
The MCWP met frequently over a period of time, and much progress was made during that time in addressing local issues on watershed management. In 2002, the Kerruish Storm Water Management Facility was installed to help alleviate the flooding located downstream of that location in Garfield Heights.
Once this project was completed, the MCWP membership started to decline and meetings for the group started to lessen in attendance. In 2005, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health received a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management Assistance Program for the development of a 15 Community Action Plan (the precursor for the Action Plan). The development of this plan started some resurgence of the MCWP.
In 2007, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health received another grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management Assistance Program to develop the Watershed Action Plan. During the development of this plan, the MCWP has been reestablished. The current MCWP consists of watershed community officials, citizens, businesses, and agencies. This group has been instrumental in the development of this plan.
City of Beachwood
City of Cleveland
Village of Cuyahoga Heights
City of Garfield Heights
Village of Highland Hills
Slavic Village Development Corporation
Village of Maple Heights
City of Warrensville Heights
Harvard Community Services Center