Cuyahoga River Restoration

(formerly Cuyahoga River Community Planning)

Restoring, revitalizing and protecting the Cuyahoga River watershed and nearshore Lake Erie

We've got way too much paved impervious surface.

It's making our cities flood and our streams unhealthy.

We're doing something about it.

If you know of a place that needs a little less pavement and a little more green space, please let us know by emailing the location to


To be informed about upcoming DepaveNEO opportunities, or for more information,

call Kacey at 216.241.2414 x255 or email

Impervious surface covering our watersheds is the most widespread obstacle to restoring water quality in rivers and streams, and has significant negative effect on our ability to restore and protect Lake Erie.

Aside from increasing runoff volume, parking lots contribute nutrient and chemical loading and contaminants from road salt, degraded asphalt, worn tire treads, automotive fluids, fertilizer, and herbicides. 31% of the land in Cuyahoga County alone is covered in impervious surface. Parking lots represent 14% of that total. The Center for Watershed Protection sets 25% impervious as the level above which serious damage to water quality is seen. If we could convert half of that 14% to absorptive greenspace, we could reach the point where we begin to protect rather than damage water quality, air quality, and human health.

It's not only a problem in urban areas, it stretches through suburban and exurban land as well. Opportunities to shrink paved areas abound wherever businesses have more parking lot than they need, or where abandoned lots in urban neighborhoods have disintegrated into particles of asphalt that wash into storm drains. It degrades water quality and lessens the chance for aquatic life to thrive.

Some green infrastructure provides stormwater storage on areas that are already green, or is built to slow rather than prevent runoff at the source. Rain gardens are often placed on greenspaces where infiltration is already happening. Bioswales are built to receive runoff but send the bulk of it down the drain.

The most effective way to reduce the effect of impervious surfaces is to remove the cause - depave the impervious surfaces altogether and replace them with naturalized areas.

DepaveNEO focuses specifically on removing areas of parking lot to reduce the source of runoff.

Sewer districts and wastewater management departments do a limited number of big projects to reduce combined sewer overflow that results when grey infrastructure - pipes - are overloaded in heavy rains.

DepaveNEO is designed to create hundreds of smaller permeable surface areas, distributed throughout watersheds, to infiltrate more stormwater and snowmelt right where the runoff begins.

4 After-Work Training Sessions + a Demo Depaving Event
to turn Northeast Ohio from Grey to Green

The Training consists of 4 successive modules, 3 hours each class
(and you need to attend all of them to get your certificate):

February 8, 15, 22, and March 8

5:00pm to 8:00pm

at the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek
2277 West Ridgewood Drive, Parma

The course is free, and a light dinner will be provided.

SESSIONS #1, 3, and 4 will start with live online training by Eric Rosewall, the founder of Depave in Portland, Oregon, and finish with local Northeast Ohio information, discussion, and resources. Session #2 will be all local, identifying areas and properties that are in the
greatest need of depaving and re-greening.

SESSION 1: Overview of depave project/process; finding potential sites, developing relationships with hosts, recruiting site partners, community scoping/survey, site selection

SESSION 2: Hands-on training using online resources, apps & map tools, and local knowledge, to identify sites, ownership, potential for stormwater runoff reduction, etc.

SESSION 3: Project planning & budgeting; site investigation, soil testing, infiltration testing, drainage area, site plan development, post-depave site elements, excavation & post-depave process, contractors vs. volunteers, hauling and disposal, planting budgeting, insurance, power-tools, roles of site hosts

SESSION 4: Depave event planning, permitting, funders and sponsors, site design, community outreach & volunteer engagement, event promotion and publicity, post-depave site monitoring

THE FINAL TRAINING AND DEPAVING EVENT will take place on May 6 & 7, where we'll put all we've learned into practice and turn a little bit of paving into a little bit of paradise.


This training is funded by a grant from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund / OhioEPA.


DepaveNEO is modeled after, and affiliated with, Depave in Portland, OR.

Learn more about Portland's Depave organization, and get a little inspired about what we can do here.





Cuyahoga River Restoration

c/o Cuyahoga River Community Planning
1299 Superior Ave. E • Cleveland, OH 44114
216-241-2414 •

Click the blue box to be a member or make a tax-deductible donation to help us restore the Cuyahoga, her watersheds and Lake Erie.


We send one or two a month, and we won't share your info without permission. Promise.