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7/3/14
PUBLIC INTEREST CENTER, (614) 644-2160
MEDIA CONTACT: Dina Pierce
CITIZEN CONTACT: Darla Peelle

Draft Water Quality Report Issued for Upper Scioto River

An Ohio EPA draft water quality report about the upper Scioto River watershed is available for public review and comment. The Agency is accepting public comments on the draft report until August 4, 2014.

Stream data was collected throughout the watershed in 2009 and 2011. The draft report includes conclusions from the data analysis and suggestions for improving water quality. Ohio EPA works with federal, state and local partners to accomplish improvements.

The watershed includes all or parts of Hardin, Marion, Logan, Union, Delaware, Crawford, Allen and Auglaize counties, draining 661 square miles. The watershed is mostly cropland. About 8 percent of the land is developed with 13 municipalities including Marion, Kenton, Richwood, Rushylvania, Mt. Victory and LaRue.

In addition to the river mainstem, several creeks and ditches were sampled, including the Little Scioto River, Fulton Creek, Panther Creek, Rush Creek and Wildcat Creek. Ohio EPA staff collected samples from 62 sites related to water and sediment quality, aquatic biology and habitat.

Public comments on the report are important because a water quality restoration plan is community driven, relying on local officials, watershed groups and landowners to implement many of the strategies for improving their watershed.

The report suggests a number of actions that can improve water quality, including reducing discharge limits for total phosphorus in wastewater treatment plant permits and eliminating combined sewer overflows. It recommends inspecting and repairing failing home septic systems to reduce phosphorus and bacteria discharges. Also, better agricultural practices will reduce nonpoint discharges of phosphorus, reduce soil loss (sediment) to streams, reduce bacteria and improve aquatic habitat.

Ohio is required by the federal Clean Water Act to identify waters that do not meet water quality standards and develop methods to bring the affected waters into compliance. This is known as the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program, which calculates the maximum amount of pollutants a water body can receive on a daily basis without violating water quality standards. The TMDL program can improve the quality of a stream by taking a comprehensive look at all pollution sources. This includes point sources such as wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities as well as nonpoint sources, including runoff from urban and agricultural areas.

Comments on the draft report may be mailed to Gregg Sablak, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049, or emailed to gregg.sablak@epa.ohio.gov by August 4, 2014. Comments received after this date may be considered as time permits. After consideration of comments, Ohio EPA will submit the report to U.S. EPA for approval.

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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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