ODNR Building Islands for New H2Ohio Project

The restoration of islands in Maumee River will help filter water and reduce erosion.

As part of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Clark Island and Delaware/Horseshoe Island restoration projects on Tuesday.

This unique endeavor will rebuild Clark and Delaware/Horseshoe islands and the downstream portion of Delaware/Horseshoe Island which have deteriorated over the years due to erosion. The process of restoring the islands will improve water quality by reducing sediment and nutrients in the Maumee River and ultimately Lake Erie.

“We have made it our mission to find innovative ways to improve water quality across Ohio, and this project is a prime example,” Gov. Mike DeWine said. “By restoring these eroded islands, more nutrients will be filtered out of the water, ensuring cleaner, safer water to drink and enjoy.”

ODNR Director Mary Mertz joins (from left to right) Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority President and CEO Thomas Winston, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Vice President of Business Development Joe Cappel, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office Director Teresa Seidel for a groundbreaking ceremony of the new islands restoration project.

The islands will be restored through a process known as natural sediment capture. Instead of constructing the islands with off-site material, a reef structure will be built around the original island footprints to accumulate sediment as it flows down the Maumee and through the reef. The result will be an island complex that builds itself naturally.

“This is an extraordinary project to restore the islands using a natural process and a first-of-its-kind for ODNR,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “This is just one of many examples of how H2Ohio is thinking outside the box to ensure quality drinking water.”

ODNR is working with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority for the island restoration projects. This has been an effective partnership to oversee the work contracted with consultants and construction firms. Local partners, like the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, have been a crucial factor to keeping H2Ohio projects moving forward.

Delaware/Horseshoe Island in Maumee River will be restored through the new H2Ohio project.

 “The Port Authority is proud to partner with so many great organizations to help administer and now deliver these projects to our community,” Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority President and CEO Thomas J. Winston said. “A healthy Maumee River and Lake Erie is important to all residents of this community, as this project will undoubtedly improve water quality and provide additional recreational opportunities for all.”

H2Ohio has invested more than $8.7 million into the island restoration. That includes the project’s engineering and design work and the construction.

Along with improving water quality, the restored island will have the added benefit of reducing wave strength through the river. That can result in reduced erosion along the riverbank, a more resilient habitat for river fish and wildlife, and enhanced outdoor recreation opportunities.

Clark Island and Delaware/Horseshoe Island in 2020 and a rendering of the islands after the restoration projects.

The H2Ohio project is happening alongside another project to improve the habitat on Delaware/Horseshoe Island through funding with the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Partners with that project include the City of Toledo, Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, and the Maumee Area of Concern (AOC) Advisory Committee (MAAC).

“This grant will improve habitat for fish and wildlife, and will also improve recreation and ultimately boost the local economy,” EPA Great Lakes National Program Office Director Teresa Seidel said. “EPA is proud to build long-term relationships with our partner organizations to facilitate this community-led restoration work.”

“We are committed to protecting our water quality in Toledo. This investment benefits the health of the Maumee River, while also enhancing the quality of life for our community. I call that a win-win.” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said.

“When local, state, and federal entities come together we can achieve great things. I am glad to work with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office, the city of Toledo, and all of our partners who make it possible to break ground on this major effort today.” Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said. “

H2Ohio is Governor DeWine’s statewide water quality initiative designed to address complex issues impacting Ohio’s waters. Launched in 2019, H2Ohio uses a comprehensive approach guided by science and data to reduce algal blooms, stop pollution, and improve access to clean drinking water by supporting best farming practices, road salt runoff reduction, litter cleanup, dam removal, land conservation, and water infrastructure revitalization. For more information visit h2.ohio.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.