Friday, July 19, 2002

Concern over Shayler Creek draws a crowd

Residents offer suggestions to save threatened East Fork

By Lew Moores,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        UNION TOWNSHIP — More than two dozen people attended the first public meeting on protecting the East Fork of the Little Miami River watershed, making suggestions ranging from issuing flood warnings to sweeping streets on commercial sites to offering tax incentives to replace failing septic systems.

        The meeting Wednesday evening at Union Township Hall was conducted by the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ), which helped prepare a plan to protect the Shayler Creek watershed of the East Fork, the first in a series of 12 plans to protect various sub-watersheds that make up the East Fork.

        The Shayler Creek watershed, which is located in Union, Batavia and Pierce townships, is in danger of becoming further degraded because of continuing development in the area.

        Aerial photography shows that its surface is at least 10.4 percent impervious, meaning rainwater cannot infiltrate the surface and runoff causes increased stream flow and erosion.

        “We're looking for input,” Paul Braasch, OEQ director, told those who attended the meeting and were asked to fill out a questionnaire rating the recommendations of the Shayler Creek report.

        “Why do we care about water quality? It comes down to a quality-of-life issue.

        “It is cheaper to protect it now than to go back and restore it.”

        “Overall, it's in pretty good shape,” said John McManus of OEQ. “The fish and bugs are looking pretty good.”

        But, he said, storm-water runoff continues to be a problem, and pollution levels go up following rain storms.

        Those attending recommended identifying residents who have had problems with flooding on their property; issuing flood warnings if possible; offering money to low-income families to have septic systems pumped out; offering tax incentives to replace septic systems; identifying properties with abandoned vehicles and rusting farm equipment; and using street sweepers on commercial property, such as parking lots.

        “These are very necessary in the process of first educating the public and then getting them involved,” said Dan Stauft, of Stonelick Township.

        “It shows the citizens the depth of commitment this county is making to preserve its ecology. The problem has been getting the public engaged. So this helps.”

        Sheri Bomkamp, of Batavia, said she liked the idea of a forum where suggestions were made by the public and noted.

        “I thought it was very productive,” said Ms. Bomkamp. “I was encouraged by some of the programs and recommendations that were presented. I came here because I'm concerned about the water quality right in our own back yard.”

        Among the recommendations in the Shayler Creek watershed report are enforcement of storm-water regulations, setting aside land as greenspace, encouraging developers to use low impact designs and improving and expanding public transportation.


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