We're happy to share with our readers the following information regarding the Wilbeth Wetlands, written by Heather Ullinger of the City of Akron Engineering Bureau.
City Set to Restore 74 acres of wetlands located in the City of Akron visible from the Towpath Trail
Between Wilbeth and Waterloo Roads, east of the Ohio & Erie Canal and the Towpath Trail
The project area is 112 acres on three City-owned parcels. There are 74 acres of wetlands and two streams. The wetlands are densely populated by invasive species. Invasive species are non-native plant species that are a threat to the long-term health and sustainability of wetlands. Human activities such as urban development, farming, recreation and gardening have resulted in the introduction of many invasive species. In some cases, those species end up competing with native species and can take over large areas of land. This lack of diversity limits the ability for wetlands to support a wide variety of plant and animals, which in turn reduces the quality of the wetlands.
The wetlands in this area have been evolving for more than 100 years. This area once consisted of one large wetland complex, but over the last 100 years, this complex was slowly divided into many disconnected wetlands through soil mining, filling, dewatering, agriculture, and industrial use. As a result of these uses over the decades, this large wetland complex now represents more of a pond/lake wetland community rather than the boggy floodplain community that existed just a hundred years ago.
Before being transferred to the City of Akron in the 1980s, this land was owned by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and used to supply cooling water for the tire manufacturing process. The remnants of six large diameter wells used by Firestone are currently present in the project area. Since the wells are no longer in use, Ohio Administrative Code requires closure of these wells. The wells will be properly abandoned as part of this project to protect groundwater quality and public safety. A historian will be on-site to photograph and document the wells prior to removal.
The solution to making this wetland healthier involves first eliminating the invasive species, which will be replaced by species native to the wetlands. Along with these plantings, we will also be properly closing the six abandoned water supply wells. The wells are closed by filling them with grout and removing all of the metal parts that can be seen above ground. To ensure that water entering the wetlands is clean, we will be removing a storm sewer and replacing it with a natural channel to guide storm water to the wetland. After we are finished with this work, we will protect the area with deed restrictions and environmental covenants to prevent activities that could disturb the area.
This project is located along the Towpath Trail. Users may see construction occurring in this area.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Public Works Commission, Summit Metro Parks, Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition,
Summit County Historical Society, Keep Akron Beautiful, Summit Soil & Water Conservation District, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio Historic Preservation Office, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
The City of Akron’s Wilbeth Wetlands project is funded with $749,336 Clean Ohio and $1,750,000 Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program (WRRSP) grants. This particular WRRSP project is funded through loan interest from our construction loan for Mud Run Pump Station Improvements. Rather than collecting the interest on our loan, Ohio EPA advances the interest to us to pay for the wetlands project.