CITIZEN CONTACT: Amber Finkelstein

Ohio EPA Launches Studies of Lower Muskingum River, Southwest Ohio River Tributaries

As part of Ohio EPA’s continuous effort to monitor and report on the quality of rivers and streams throughout Ohio, the Agency is launching several studies this year of the lower Muskingum River tributaries and Southwest Ohio River Tributaries.

The lower Muskingum River tributaries are located in southeastern Ohio near the Ohio River. These streams flow into the Muskingum River between Philo in Muskingum County and Marietta in Washington County. The study area also includes Morgan County. Olive Green, Meigs and Wolf creeks will all be sampled this year. Rainbow Creek, Big Run, and Cat Creek are also in the study area, but Ohio EPA sampled them last year, along with some other small tributaries in the Marietta area. Studies take about two years to complete. A report will be published and made available to the public upon completion.

In a separate study over the next several years, Ohio EPA will sample lower Muskingum River tributaries in the Wolf and Olive Green basins as well as Southwest Ohio River tributaries near the lower Scioto River basin (starting with Turkey Run in Scioto County this summer). Additional Southwest Ohio River tributaries, including Redoak, Threemile, Eagle and Straight creeks, will be sampled across Brown, Adams and Scioto counties in 2015, and a final report is expected in 2016.

This sampling will determine or verify the appropriate classification for significant streams in the area. These classifications, which indicate the quality of water and aquatic life, are used by Ohio EPA when reviewing whether to permit projects that may lower water quality.

This information also allows Ohio EPA to thoroughly and accurately report to U.S. EPA on surface water resource conditions in Ohio. The sampling is made possible with a grant from U.S. EPA.

Sampling Protocol and Purpose

Ohio EPA employees will collect water and stream sediment chemistry samples, survey aquatic communities and evaluate stream habitat from dozens of sites in each study area. Samplers all carry a photo ID and may request private property access from landowners if needed.

The Agency has one of the most advanced water quality monitoring programs in the nation, determining the health of rivers and streams by sampling aquatic biology and habitat in addition to water chemistry. Biology and habitat information can be used to show long-term trends in the quality of the water resource.

Ohio EPA analyzes information about the abundance and variety of fish and aquatic insects, especially those species sensitive to pollution, and the amount of bacteria, metals and nutrients in the stream system. The Agency also takes a comprehensive look at all pollution sources. This includes point sources, such as wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, like urban and rural runoff. To help address impairments, Ohio EPA may develop a watershed restoration report, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report.

The Agency shares its information with local governments, watershed groups, landowners and citizens so they also can develop plans to maintain and/or restore impaired waterways. Stakeholders can use Ohio EPA’s information to request grants and additional assistance from the Agency and other funding sources for projects that alleviate water quality problems and protect the resource for drinking water and recreational enjoyment.

Other material related to the watershed study is online and also available for review by calling Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water at (614) 644-2001 or Southeast District Office at (740) 385-8501.


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. In the past 40 years, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling. Ohio EPA -- 40 years and moving forward.