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9/11/20
PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, (614) 644-2160
MEDIA CONTACT: Anthony Chenault
CITIZEN CONTACT: Kristopher Weiss

Study of Lake Erie Central Basin Tributaries Released

Public Comment Period Open through Oct. 12  

Ohio EPA today released a study examining water and sediment chemistry, habitat, fish, and other aquatic life from 38 named and unnamed rivers and streams that flow into the Lake Erie Central Basin in northeast Ohio. These small streams drain approximately 1,040 square miles in portions of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake, and Lorain counties. 

The study shows that more than half of the sites sampled are in partial attainment or meeting assigned aquatic life uses. Overall, water quality in the smaller streams has improved compared to results from previous studies.

Ninety-two percent of the streams sampled that drain more than 20 square miles are meeting the aquatic life goals supporting a variety of fish and insect species. Considerable water quality improvements have occurred in the lower reach of Beaver Creek. Improvements also have resulted following upgrades at the Amherst wastewater treatment plant. 

The study also found ninety-six percent of the streams are not meeting the human recreation-based water quality standard for E. coli bacteria. The causes of nonattainment include combined sewer overflows, separate sewer overflows, urban runoff, wastewater treatment plant discharges, home sewage treatment systems, and agricultural runoff.

The biological and water quality study is designed to assess the effects of various land uses, evaluate the influences of agricultural, industrial, and commercial discharges and spills, and assess the performance of permitted wastewater treatment plants. The study also evaluates the quality of fish and macroinvertebrate communities in the streams, compares results with historic conditions, and determines if streams are meeting designated aquatic life and human recreation uses.

Further details about the study, data, and maps are contained in the report. The study is the second step in Ohio EPA’s five-step Total Maximum Daily Load process.

Findings in the report along with public comments received will be developed into a Total Maximum Daily Load report, which is a plan to improve water quality in the watershed through potential permit limits on regulated dischargers and/or nonpoint source runoff reduction projects, whichever may be necessary to address water quality impairment at any given location. Ohio EPA works with local communities and watershed groups to implement projects and strategies to achieve water quality goals. 

To comment on the study, email EPATMDL@epa.ohio.gov or write to TMDL Program, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049. Comments are due by 5 p.m. Oct. 12. Subscribe here for updates on this and other Ohio EPA Total Maximum Daily Load projects. 

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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.

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