Liberty Township is seeking grant funds to improve the storm-water management of Liberty Park.

Liberty Township is seeking grant funds to improve the storm-water management of Liberty Park.

The township is partnering with members of the Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed (FLOW) and other professionals to seek two Ohio Environmental Agency grants, said township administrator Dave Anderson.

One grant would provide $109,000 to restore a stream called Wildcat Run that runs through Liberty Park and eventually reaches the Olentangy River, said FLOW watershed coordinator Heather Dean.

The bed of the stream is eroding with some gullies as deep as five to 10 feet, Anderson said.

Such gullies could be hazardous for park visitors. They also increase the speed of water, which increases the danger of sediment and lawn fertilizers reaching the Olentangy River, he said.

The Olentangy River is a state scenic river between Delaware Lake and the Scioto River, Dean said.

"We are concerned about wanting to make sure that section of the river remains healthy," she said. "One of the ways to do that is to make sure that the tributaries that flow into the Olentangy are healthy.

"We picked Wildcat Run because it's pretty typical of the tributaries in that area. You're starting to see development which is having an impact on it. There are things you can do in terms of restoration and storm-water management that are going to help to slow down the flow of the stream from development and improve the water quality by allowing it to filter out a little bit more," she said.

Such storm-water management techniques include raising the stream bed to slow the flow; installing riffles, or miniature dams, with logs to create little pools; and planting vegetation such as longer grasses, said Anderson.

The second grant would provide funds for installing other stormwater management systems on Wildcat Run and in other areas of the park, including the 40 acres, called Liberty Park South, behind the YMCA, 7798 Liberty Road.

"The focus would be on a storm-water demonstration project including rain gardens, different kinds of bio-retention systems and systems to catch roof water," Dean said.

The second grant application is still being developed, and the amount of the work has not yet been determined, said Dean. The cap on that grant is $300,000, she said.

If the township receives both grants, it would have six to eight different ways to deal with stormwater runoff in the park, Anderson said.

"We can do very good things environmentally and be very visible ... and be a showcase for proper environmental practices," Anderson said.

Anderson said it's important to protect the "exceptional warm water habitat and the rare things that are on (the Olentangy) river."

"The nesting bald eagles on one end and the blue heron rookery on the other, shows how rare that stretch of river is. It speaks to the unusual quality of the environment there," he said.

"FLOW is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping the Olentangy River and its tributaries clean and safe for all to enjoy, through public education, volunteer activities, and coordination with local decision makers," the organization's Web site says. It has 300 members and was founded about 12 years ago, Dean said.

In May, FLOW will hold sessions to train volunteers on habitat assessments. The volunteers will assess the tributaries along the Olentangy to determine which streams should have the highest priority for preservation or for restoration, said Dean. For more information on the training, visit www.olentangywatershed.org.