Black River, Rocky River and Lake Erie Tributaries Watersheds

Black and Rocky Rivers, Lake Erie TributariesThe Black River, Rocky River and Lake Erie tributaries watersheds are located in northeastern Ohio.  They drain a total of 898 square miles and flow through all or part of eight counties.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watersheds include Cleveland and some of its suburbs, Lorain, Elyria, Oberlin, Medina and Parma.

The northern and eastern portions of the watersheds are predominantly comprised of urban development.  The southern and western portions of the watersheds are predominantly comprised of cultivated crops, hay and pasture lands and pockets of urban development and forest.

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Black River Watershed

Black River WatershedThe Black River watershed is located in Ashland, Huron, Medina, Cuyahoga and Lorain counties.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watershed include Oberlin, Elyria, North Ridgeville, Avon and Sheffield.  The Black River drains into Lake Erie in the City of Lorain.  The dominant land uses in the Black River watershed are 44% row crop, 25% deciduous forest, 16% residential, and 8% pasture.  The watershed lies within the Erie/Ontario Lake Plain ecoregion.










The Black River watershed is being studied in 2012.  The watershed is divided into four subwatersheds, as follows:

  • 04110001 03        Headwaters East Branch Black River
  • 04110001 04        East Branch Black River
  • 04110001 05        West Branch Black River
  • 04110001 06        Black River

The Black River Watershed TMDL Report was approved by U.S. EPA on August 20, 2008.  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.

Point source pollution (discharged from pipes), runoff from urban areas and agricultural land, failing home sewage treatment and poor stream bank land management are degrading some stream segments.  Among the most visible threats to the Black River is the conversion of farm, forest and stream bank acreage to suburban and commercial uses.

Some of the recommendations for improvement include restoring stream habitat in agricultural areas; eliminating pervasive bacteria problems; reducing impacts from permitted dischargers; and managing storm water quantity and quality in developing areas.

TMDL Report without Appendices

The Black River watershed is part of the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Program.  The Black River is the only river system in Ohio where the entire watershed has been designated as an Area of Concern.  Contaminant loadings from point source dischargers (typically industries and waste water treatment facilities) within the Black River watershed have seen significant reductions within the last decade.  The RAP now aims to combat nonpoint source impacts through precision farming techniques, the utilization of best management practices during construction, and the restoration, enhancement, and protection of the Black River riparian corridor.  The Black River RAP projects and educational activities address a wide variety of these issues.  More information about the RAP program is available at the Lake Erie web page.

There is no implementation information available at this time.

Rocky River Watershed

Rocky River WatershedThe Rocky River watershed drains a total of 265 square miles and flows through all or part of four counties.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watershed include Medina, Brunswick, Strongsville, Cleveland and several of its suburbs.  The southern portion of the watershed is a mixture of urban development, agricultural land uses such as cultivated crops, and forest.  The southern and western portions of the watershed are predominantly urban.

The Rocky River basin is located in Cuyahoga, Summit, Medina and Lorain Counties in northeastern Ohio.  Ohio's 1998 303(d) list included the Rocky River basin, with fifteen stream segments or lakes identified as impaired.  The impairments cited include nutrients, organic enrichment, ammonia, pathogens, flow alteration and other causes.




A major biological and chemical stream survey of the basin conducted in 1992 formed the basis for the 1998 listing.  Many changes occurred in the basin following the 1992 survey, including abandoning or upgrading multiple wastewater treatment plants, issuing more restrictive limits to some dischargers, and implementing home sewage system inspection and maintenance programs.  A 1997 survey indicated that some of the segments had achieved attainment.  This information was documented in the March 1999 Biological and Water Quality Study of the Rocky River and Selected Tributaries.

According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be studied in 2014.

Ohio EPA provided for public review and comment the draft Rocky River Watershed Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Report, which was been developed in fulfillment of Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.  The public review period extended from May 19, 2005 through June 24, 2005.

Plum Creek is a small tributary to the Rocky River.  The Plum Creek (Rocky River) Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report includes TMDLs for nutrients for Plum Creek, recommendations for de-listing four waters, and recommendations for additional monitoring for the remaining listed waters before TMDLs for other parameters can be done.

The following implementation projects have been completed in the watershed.

Lake Erie Tributaries

Lake Erie TributariesThe Lake Erie tributaries (including Beaver Creek) drain a total of 70 square miles and are located in two counties.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watershed include Lorain, Vermilion and Amherst.  The eastern portion of the watershed contains a mixture of forest, agricultural lands and urban development.  The western portion of the watershed is almost entirely developed.









According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the tributaries will next be monitored in 2015.

There is no TMDL information available at this time.

There is no supplemental information available at this time.

There is no implementation information available at this time.