Cuyahoga River Watershed

Cuyahoga River WatershedThe Cuyahoga River watershed is located in northeastern Ohio.  It drains a total of 812 square miles and flows through all or part of six counties.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watershed include Cleveland and some of its suburbs, Akron, Kent and Cuyahoga Falls.

The eastern portion of the watershed is a mixture of agricultural land uses such as cultivated crops, and forest.  The western portion of the watershed is predominantly comprised of urban development, with some forest and pockets of hay and pasture lands.

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Cuyahoga River (upper) Watershed

Cuyahoga River (upper) WatershedThe Cuyahoga River (upper) basin is located in Geauga and Portage counties.  The Cuyahoga River (upper) study area includes the main stem and major tributaries from the headwaters to the Lake Rockwell Dam.  Three reservoirs dominate the land use in the region.  The Cuyahoga River was also designated an American Heritage River in 1998, and a National Heritage Corridor in 1996.  Several NPDES permitted municipal and industrial facilities are also within the TMDL area.









According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be studied in 2020.

The Upper Cuyahoga River Total Maximum Daily Load report (TMDL) was approved by U.S. EPA on September 27, 2004.  TMDLs identify and evaluate water quality problems in impaired water bodies and propose solutions to bring those waters into attainment.

The Upper Cuyahoga River TMDL Report addresses water quality problems that were identified on the 2002 303(d) list.  Organic and nutrient enrichment, siltation, low dissolved oxygen, habitat and flow alteration related issues have been identified as the primary causes of impairment.  Total phosphorus and habitat TMDLs have been calculated.  Some of the recommended solutions include reduction of nutrient contributions from both point and nonpoint sources, a public education component, septic system improvements, and habitat protection and restoration.  Attainment of the appropriate aquatic life use (the Warmwater Habitat biocriteria for the majority of the basin) will be the measure used to determine success.

There is no implementation information available at this time.

Cuyahoga River (middle) Watershed

Cuyahoga River (middle) watershedThe Cuyahoga River (middle) watershed is located northeast of Akron, Ohio and covers portions of Portage, Summit and Stark Counties.  The study area drains 135 square miles and extends from the Lake Rockwell reservoir located northeast of the city of Kent and flows through the urban areas of Kent and Munroe Falls.  The downstream boundary is Waterworks Park in Cuyahoga Falls, a suburb of Akron.  The study area is upstream of the Little Cuyahoga River and the Gorge Dam.  Tributaries include Twin Lakes Outlet, Breakneck Creek (and tributaries), Plum Creek and Fish Creek.  This portion of the Cuyahoga River is situated within the Erie/Ontario Lake Plain ecoregion and is characterized by glacial formations and in general, low gradient and velocities.  Soils are mainly derived from glacial till and lacustrine deposits and tend to be light colored, acidic and moderately to highly erodible.

Land use of the watershed is dominated by urban development, followed by agriculture, forest and wetland areas.  There are several municipal wastewater treatment plants both on the Cuyahoga main stem and in the Breakneck Creek watershed, a major tributary in the study area.  The hydrology of the study area is influenced by impoundments and flow modification.


According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be studied in 2020.

The Middle Cuyahoga River Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was the first Ohio TMDL project report approved by U.S. EPA under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.  TMDLs identify and evaluate water quality problems in impaired water bodies and propose solutions to bring those waters into attainment.

The TMDL report for the middle Cuyahoga River includes recommendations based on voluntary and regulatory actions to meet Ohio's water quality standards.  Recommendations include: increasing the quality and quantity of water released through the Lake Rockwell Dam by the City of Akron; modifying dams in Munroe Falls and Kent to increase stream flow and reduce or eliminate stagnant pools behind the two dams, which will improve aquatic habitats and allow free passage of fish up and down the river; and applying limits on point source discharges for ammonia, dissolved oxygen, phosphorus and suspended solids.

Final Report (March 2000

Combined Appendices

  • Appendix A - Modeling Description
  • Appendix B - Calibration and Verification Graphs
  • Appendix C, D and References

Cuyahoga River (lower) Watershed

Cuyahoga River (lower) watershedThe Cuyahoga River (lower) basin is located primarily in Cuyahoga, Summit and Portage counties.  The project area includes the main stem and major tributaries from below the Munroe Falls Dam to Lake Erie.  Major recreational features within the basin include: the Cuyahoga Valley National Park; county park systems (MetroParks Serving Summit County, Cleveland Metro Parks); a National Historic Landmark, the Ohio and Erie Canal; and a National Natural Landmark, the Tinkers Creek Gorge.

The Cuyahoga River was also designated an American Heritage River in 1998, and a National Heritage Corridor in 1996.  Several major NPDES permitted municipal and industrial facilities are also within the TMDL area.  Much of the lower Cuyahoga River watershed is also an Area of Concern with the Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan being established in 1988.  Treated effluent makes up a major portion of river during low-flow periods.



According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be studied in 2020.

The Lower Cuyahoga River Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was approved by U.S. EPA on September 26, 2003.  TMDLs identify and evaluate water quality problems in impaired water bodies and propose solutions to bring those waters into attainment.

  • Final Report without appendices (September 2003)
  • Appendix A - Communities Covered by Phase I and Phase II Storm Water Regulations in the Lower Cuyahoga River TMDL Area
  • Appendix B - Cuyahoga River Basin Year 2000 Exceedences of Ohio Water Quality Chemical/Physical Standards Criteria
  • Appendix C - Adaptive Management Implementation Plan for the Tinkers Creek Subbasin
  • Appendix D - Aquatic Life Use Attainment Status for Stations Sampled in the Cuyahoga River Basin July-September, 1999-2000
  • Appendix E - NPDES Permitted Dischargers in the Lower Cuyahoga River Basin
  • Appendix F - Current 319 Projects in the Lower Cuyahoga River TMDL Area
  • Appendix G - Phosphorus Concentrations in the Lower Cuyahoga River TMDL Area
  • Appendix H - Causes and Sources of Impairment in the Lower Cuyahoga River Basin
  • Appendix I - Cuyahoga RAP Activities Benefiting the Lower Cuyahoga River TMDL Area
  • Appendix J - TMDL Development and Modeling Additional Information
  • Appendix K - Cuyahoga River Water Quality Standards as Listed in Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-1-26
  • Appendix L - Nutrients in the Lower Cuyahoga River
  • Appendix M - QHEI Data Sheets for Lower Cuyahoga River TMDL Area (exclusive of Tinkers Creek watershed)
  • Appendix N - QHEI Data Sheets for the Tinkers Creek Watershed
  • Appendix O - Responsiveness Summary to Public Comments