Sustainability and environmental stewardship are core tenets of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s mission. This applies not just to the animals in the Zoo’s care and the operation of the park, but to the natural resources of the surrounding area and Big Creek, too.
One of the main sources of water pollution in urban areas is runoff from surfaces such as parking lots and roads. Rain and snow that fall on these surfaces collect contaminants from the ground such as road salt, oil and litter and carry them into our waterways. One inch of rain falling on a one-acre parking lot can produce 3,450 cubic feet of runoff, enough to fill a two-car garage.
“Everyone needs to do their part to help protect the rivers, lakes and streams that make up our watershed, and the Zoo is no different,” said Zoo Director Steve Taylor.
Last year, Cleveland Metroparks received a $180,000 Surface Water Improvement Fund grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to help stop pollution from entering Big Creek, a small tributary that runs through the Zoo and eventually feeds the Cuyahoga River and ultimately Lake Erie.
The grant was used to fund construction of a diversion channel and retention basin that will filter nearly 100 percent of the runoff from the 11-acre parking lot behind The RainForest before it enters Big Creek.
Water flows across the lot into the diversion channel where large gravel slows the water down to avoid soil erosion and filters out larger pollutants such as litter. The water then collects in the 30,000-square-foot retention basin where it is held for at least 48 hours to allow time for pollutants to settle out of the water. The water then travels through an underdrain where it is filtered again, this time through finer gravel and a special fabric that removes smaller pollutants, before it passes through a flow control system out into Big Creek.
By giving up a few dozen parking spaces, Cleveland Metroparks and the Ohio EPA are improving the water quality of Big Creek and the Lake Erie watershed.
Northeast Ohio’s most-visited year-round attraction, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with hours extended to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $12.25 per person, $8.25 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children younger than 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 90 and 480.
To learn more, visit clemetzoo.com or call (216) 661-6500.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo . . . Connecting People with Wildlife