More Ohio waterways need cleanup
Report lists parts of Lake Erie shoreline, Maumee River
By Rachel Zinn
Linda Oros, an EPA spokesman, said the increase may not
mean that Ohioís waterways are getting dirtier. The agency
used additional criteria to classify water quality and
had better samples to evaluate for the recent report.
"Itís hard to establish a trend in water quality
right now," Ms. Oros said. "Some things have
improved and some things have not."
The EPA evaluates the quality of Ohioís beaches, rivers,
and creeks every two years using several measures, including
In a list prioritizing cleanup projects, the western
and central Lake Erie shorelines and the Sandusky River
from its headwaters to Wyandot Countyís Broken Sword Creek
ranked in the top 15 waterways that need improvement.
Two-thirds of the Ohio waters sampled did not meet state
standards for recreational use because bacteria levels
were too high, the report said.
One focus of bacteria sampling is public beaches. Most
of Ohioís 22 Lake Erie beaches had safe bacteria counts,
but eight of the beaches - including those at Camp Perry,
Port Clinton, and Maumee Bay State Park - closed for more
than 23 percent of the recreation season over the last
five years because of high bacteria levels.
In Lucas County, officials have sought for years to determine
the cause of high bacteria counts at Maumee Bay State
Park. The counts have caused the park to post warnings
at its Lake Erie beach and at its inland lake over the
"Itís not clear in many cases what the sources of
the pathogens are that are contaminating the beaches.
Narrowing down the sources in a particular area has been
very challenging," said Dr. Jeffery Foran, president
of Citizens for a Better Environment, an advocacy group
for the Great Lakes region. A number of other northwest
Ohio beaches, however, had few problems, including Crane
Creek State Park, Kelleys Island State Park, and East
Harbor State Park in Ottawa County.
Many northwest Ohio waterways, including part of the
Maumee, Ottawa, Tiffin, and Auglaize rivers, have substandard
water quality, according to the Ohio EPA.
Additional testing of some area waterways caused the
state to conclude that they need cleanup as well. These
include Wolf Creek; the Blanchard River between Hancock
Countyís Ottawa Creek and Putnam Countyís Riley Creek;
the Maumee River from Defiance to Henry Countyís South
Turkeyfoot Creek; from Bad Creek in Fulton County to Seneca
Countyís Beaver Creek, and most of the Portage River.
"We have a long way to go to improve our waterways,"
Keith Dimoff, assistant director of the Ohio Environmental
In its recent report, the EPA judged water quality using
fish consumption advisories, which are based on harmful
chemicals found in fish. The agency did not use the advisories
in its 2002 report, prompting criticism from environmental
"We thought that fish advisories should be a reason
to list waterways as unhealthy," Mr. Dimoff said.
"Weíre very glad to see that the EPA now considers
The Ohio EPA is accepting public comments on the reportís
draft through its web site at www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw.
It will submit the final report to the U.S. EPA for approval