MOUNT VERNON - In 2016, the City of Mount Vernon started taking steps to address the Kokosing River corridor along Ariel Foundation Park and Phillips Drive.
With the aid of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Scenic Rivers Program, The US Army Corps of Engineers, US EPA, Ohio EPA, Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, The Shade Tree and Beautification Commission, The Ariel Foundation, The Foundation Park Conservancy and the Mount Vernon Stormwater Utility, the City identified three locations of degraded habitat and active erosion along the Scenic Kokosing River.
Titled The Armstrong Run Restoration Project, the improvement of the river is being completed in three phases: West Lake (phase one), Norton Street (phase two), and Phillips Drive (phase three) which started on March 11.
The City began construction of Phases 1 and 2 on March 29, for both habitat improvement and river bank stability to ensure that no breaches in waterways will occur in future flood events.
The Armstrong Run Restoration Project is being funded concurrently through The City of Mount Vernon's Stormwater Utility, an Ohio EPA 319(h) Grant and a grant from the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. The projects phases will all improve river habitats through the stabilization of erosion and will directly decrease nonpoint source pollution.
Nonpoint source pollution is pollution that enters waterways from extensive land use and/or man-made changes to a river rather than from a single point of discharge, such as industrial contaminants.
Sources of nonpoint source pollution are commonly polluted runoff from rain or snow melt that flows into a river collecting harmful contaminants along the way and physical alterations to the river channel such as tree removal from banks, construction of dams, floodplains, ground mining, or the physical straightening of rivers.
The complete restoration project will help to decrease these sources of pollution going into the Scenic Kokosing River. One major pollutant of concern is phosphorus, when soil erosion occurs phosphorus enters our river during the erosion events.
These projects will help decrease the amount of this pollutant that enters the waterways and causes further harm to the river habitats along our Scenic Kokosing River.
Phases 1 and 2 of the project will be completed by Tucson INC. Phase 1 at West Lake will remedy the effects of a 2017 flood event which left the river bank severely eroded, resulting in a direct connection between the West Lake at Foundation Park and the Kokosing River. City Project Engineer, Brian Ball explained what will happen.
“Specifically it will restore 125 linear feet of that severely unstable streambank by repairing the breached embankment between the two bodies of water and 500 linear feet of riparian areas by integrating habitat features to support the diverse life forms that nestle along the bank,” Ball said. “This portion of work was designed by EMH&T's Miles Herbert, P.E. and his staff.”
The second phase of the project, Norton Street,Tucson INC. will utilize natural channel design techniques to restore approximately 700 linear feet of the embankment along a backwater channel section of the Kokosing River. The backwater channel is located near Foundation Park’s East Lake.
It is a branch of the main river that curves around some small island features and has little or no current till it meets back up with the main river channel. By restoring the embankment along this channel it will protect the river from breaching into the East Lake in flood events and will also protect the habitats along the bank.
Phase 3 was the first phase of work to commence. Since March 11, Environmental Remediation Contractor has been working to restore approximately 800 linear feet of failing and unstable river bank by installing cross vanes consisting of multiple large sandstone blocks along the riverbank so that the water can be guided away from the bank to minimize erosion.
“We’re thrilled with how well phase 3 is going and are excited about getting phases 1 and 2 underway,” said Mount Vernon Mayor Matt Starr. “Creating sustainability from environmental, economic, and recreational perspectives, will have a lasting effect on the community.”
Work on phases 1 and 2 will continue throughout June 15th, 2021. After the project is completed our Scenic Kokosing river will be more stable in these areas in order for the habitat to continue to thrive. You can read more about each project and see exactly where work will take place on the City website in the stormwater tab (https://mountvernonohio.org/stormwater-utility/).