Metroparks build dike in Jerusalem Township to reduce risk of flooding

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Metroparks of the Toledo Area recently constructed a spur dike at Howard Marsh Metropark to protect an area of Jerusalem Township from flooding due to the area’s eroded dike system.
        The dike, an earthen berm or barrier, will reduce the risk of flooding if a breach were to occur in the legacy dike on the north side of Ward’s Canal beginning at the intersection of Howard Road and Route 2 and extending east out toward the lake, according to Jerusalem Township Trustee Mark Sattler.
        “If the dike between Howard Road and State Rt. 2 that extends around Wards Canal out to the lake were to fail, the spur dike would connect that opening. Any water that would flow in would be stopped by the internal dike system. So there would be a very narrow stretch that would be flooded, but it would not get into our neighborhoods.”
        On July 11, Jerusalem Township trustees held a meeting in the township hall with the Metroparks of Toledo, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Howards Farm Conservancy, and the Lucas County Engineer’s office to express their concerns about weakened dikes in the township that could cause severe flooding following heavy rains, such as a Nor’easter that sometimes occurs in the fall.
        Trustee David Bench at the time said the main dike on Ward’s Canal could break.
        “The dike is real bad,” said Bench. “If it breaks, we could see water go down Howard Road, flood by Bunting, and keep going right to Reno Beach.”
        The meeting ended without anyone offering any solutions.
More meetings
        Sattler and Bench went to a metroparks board meeting to talk further about their concerns.
        “We presented our case to them,” recalled Sattler.
        Trustees suggested if the metroparks built a spur dike at the Howard Marsh Metropark, it would close off about 800 feet of the compromised dike system in that area.
        “It’s probably the shortest stretch and the lowest cost option. They all agreed that was the best financial solution,” said Sattler. “The board agreed with us. They said they wanted to be good neighbors and do whatever is necessary.”
        The metroparks awarded the contract to George Gradel Company, said Sattler. “The metroparks paid for it. Technically, they were responsible for the dike on their property. They’re doing it at their expense. It’s not coming out of township funds. We’re delighted about it.”
        After the July 11 town hall meeting, Tim Schetter, director of natural resources at the metroparks, said there were further discussions with the trustees and the Army Corps of Engineers.
        “We also worked with a private consultant engineer to evaluate the sections of dike that we owned. At the end of the day, this was a request from the township. We wanted to be good neighbors,” said Schetter. “We decided this was a prudent action to take.”
Long neglected
        “The flood control levies that were built along Wards Canal and Cooley Canal were constructed a long time ago before the metroparks acquired the property for the park. By the time we acquired that property, they had been in a state of neglect for decades. So we were evaluating what we could potentially do to alleviate some of the township concerns,” said Schetter.
        “Of the four miles of flood control levies in the township, we own about a mile of those. The rest are on private property. We just evaluated what, if any, prudent actions we could take to shore up the flood control levies that we own in the face of record high lake levels that would hopefully give us an extra insurance policy against some unforeseen storm event,” said Schetter.
        The spur dike, from the corner of Howard Road and Route 2, ties into the entrance road of Howard Marsh. The dike is six feet wide at the top and four feet high.
        “In the event of a failure of the section of dike we own along Route 2, the spur dike would then catch the flood water or storm surge and keep it out of the residential areas to the west,” said Schetter.
        “We built it around some tree plantings we had done. It follows parallel to Route 2 for a short distance, then goes directly north to tie into our park entrance road. The whole idea here is that this is a secondary measure in the event of a failure of the legacy dike along Route 2. This would capture any storm water before it hits Howard Road. It would minimize any chance of the floodwater going northward, or flooding Howard Road or going west into the Wallace subdivision,” he said.
        “It was reasonably cost effective for us to build. It seemed like a good insurance policy. There were no negative implications doing this. And it addressed the concerns that the township had,” he said.
        “This is only one section of the four miles of legacy dike system that is there,” cautioned Schetter. “This is not the only action that needs to be taken to address township concerns. There are large sections of the dike that are on private property that are outside of our control.”
        Trustees are working on a general Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that addresses how residents will be notified in the event of a dike emergency, what actions will be taken, which township residents and businesses will pitch in with their equipment and resources, and what emergency supplies (sandbags, etc.) will be prepared and staged, according to the township’s website.


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