Ohio River Tributary Watersheds: North

Ohio River Tributaries NorthThe Ohio River tributaries (north) watershed is located in northeastern Ohio. It drains a total of 640 square miles and flows through all or part of five counties. Major municipalities partially or fully in the watershed include Calcutta, Salem and Columbiana.

The southern and eastern portions of the watershed are predominantly comprised of forest with some areas of cultivated crops pasture and hay lands. The northern portion of the watershed is a mixture of cultivated crops, pasture and hay lands, forest and urban development.




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Little Beaver Creek Watershed

Little Beaver Creek watershedThe Little Beaver Creek watershed is located in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, draining approximately 510 square miles, of which 408 are in Ohio. The watershed occupies portions of Columbiana, Carroll, and Mahoning counties.

The Little Beaver Creek watershed is characterized by deep valleys, wooded slopes, and occasional rock outcroppings. The creek is boulder-strewn, consisting of fast-flowing rapids and riffles, quiet pools and clear, swiftly flowing tributaries. In addition to a diverse aquatic insect population, the watershed supports 63 species of fish, 49 mammal species, 140 types of birds and 46 species of reptiles and amphibians. Ohio's largest population of endangered Hellbender salamanders resides in Little Beaver Creek.

Portions of the Little Beaver Creek basin were designated State Wild and Scenic River under Section 1501 of the Ohio Revised Code (effective on January 15, 1974). In 1975 select river sections were also designated National Scenic River, thus making Little Beaver Creek the only major river in Ohio to have dual State Wild and Scenic and National Scenic River designations. A total of 36 river miles are designated under the State and Federal Wild and Scenic River rules.


Ohio EPA surveyed the status of the water quality in this watershed during 1999.  The study found impairment of the Aquatic Life Use, with causes of impairment identified including organic enrichment/dissolved oxygen (DO), siltation, habitat alteration, nutrients, and salinity/total dissolved solids/chlorides.

TMDL Report

The Little Beaver Creek Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was approved by U.S. EPA on September 28, 2005.  TMDL reports identify and evaluate water quality problems in impaired water bodies and propose solutions to bring those waters into attainment with water quality standards.

TMDLs were calculated for siltation, dissolved oxygen, fecal coliform bacteria, and phosphorus.  Some of the recommended solutions include agricultural BMP development, habitat restoration/protection, and phosphorus load reductions at WWTPs.  Attainment of the appropriate aquatic life use will be the measure used to determine success.

Supplemental Information

There is no supplemental information available at this time.


There is no implementation information available at this time.

Yellow Creek Watershed

Yellow Creek watershedThe Yellow Creek and Little Yellow Creek watersheds drain directly to the Ohio River in eastern Ohio. Yellow Creek drains 239 square miles and Little Yellow Creek drains 45 square miles. Land use in the watersheds is predominantly forest (70 percent) with pasture (13 percent) and cropland (6 percent) interspersed. About 10 percent of the watershed is developed or urban land, most of which is accounted for by the urban and industrial areas of East Liverpool around Little Yellow Creek. There is little new land development underway and growth projections are very modest.


Ohio EPA conducted a comprehensive physical, chemical and biological survey of the Yellow and Little Yellow Creek watersheds in 2005, and some problems were identified.  The survey results were published in 2008 (see below).  Much of the watershed displayed exceptional quality and parts of Yellow Creek and several tributaries scored very high on the biological and habitat indices.

Primary causes of impairment for aquatic life uses are acid mine drainage and a large amount of algal production exported from small reservoirs.  High concentrations of bacteria impaired recreation uses.  Sources are failing septic systems, cattle with direct access to streams, historic surface and subsurface mines, and run-off from agricultural landscapes feeding lake production.

TMDL Report

The Yellow Creek Watershed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was approved by U.S. EPA on March 18, 2010.  TMDL reports identify and evaluate water quality problems in impaired water bodies and propose solutions to bring those waters into attainment with water quality standards.

TMDLs are calculated for fecal coliform bacteria and phosphorus.  Concentration based targets are established to guide abatement of acid mine drainage although these were structured as TMDLs.  TMDL recommendations include:

  • Reduce home sewage treatment system failures
  • Restrict livestock access to streams and improve manure management
  • Protect both floodplain and streamside areas and create effective buffer areas
  • Employ nutrient management and soil erosion controls on farmland
  • Adhere to recommendations provided in the acid mine drainage abatement and treatment plan that was developed for the Yellow Creek watershed

TMDL Report without appendices

Supplemental Information


The following implementation projects have been completed in the watershed.