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Draft Water Quality Report Issued for Mohican River Watershed
The Mohican River watershed in north-central Ohio is in good condition, according to an Ohio EPA draft water quality report about the watershed. The Agency is accepting comments on the draft report until Jan. 5, 2015.
Stream data was collected throughout the watershed in 2007. The draft report includes conclusions from the data analysis and suggestions for improving water quality where impairments were identified. Ohio EPA works with federal, state and local partners to accomplish improvements through both regulatory and voluntary activities.
The watershed drains 1,004 square miles and includes areas within Ashland, Coshocton, Crawford, Holmes, Knox, Medina, Morrow, Richland and Wayne counties. The watershed consists mostly of forests and agricultural land. It includes all or parts of 18 municipalities including Ashland, Mansfield, Ontario and Shelby. It also is a popular recreation region, featuring Mohican State Park and several commercial canoe liveries.
Ohio EPA’s study evaluates water quality for both aquatic wildlife and human recreation uses. The Mohican River and its tributaries are some of the highest quality streams in the state. Seventy-four percent of the sites sampled fully met aquatic life use goals and another 14 percent met some but not all goals. Based on E.coli levels, only 13 percent of the sites met the recreational use goals.
Public comments on the report are important because a water quality restoration plan is community driven, relying on local officials, watershed groups and landowners to implement many of the strategies for improving their watershed.
The report suggests a number of actions that can improve water quality, including:
- Repairing or replacing home sewage treatment systems;
- Reducing manure-laden runoff from farm fields and pastures and fencing livestock out of streams;
- Restoring stream banks and habitat where feasible; and
- Improving effluent from several wastewater treatment plants in the region.
Ohio is required by the federal Clean Water Act to identify waters that do not meet water quality standards and develop methods to bring the affected waters into compliance. This is known as the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program, which calculates the maximum amount of pollutants a water body can receive on a daily basis without violating water quality standards. The TMDL program can improve the quality of a stream by taking a comprehensive look at all pollution sources. This includes point sources such as wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities as well as nonpoint sources, including runoff from urban and agricultural areas.
A fact sheet about the report is available. Comments on the draft report may be mailed to Angela Defenbaugh, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 5, 2015. Comments received after this date may be considered as time permits. After considering comments, Ohio EPA will submit the report to U.S. EPA for approval.
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. Since then, 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.