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Black River Water Quality Continues to Improve, Prompting Removal of “Restrictions on Navigational Dredging Activities” Impairment Designation

May 19, 2022

Responding to the Ohio Lake Erie Commission’s recommendation from earlier this year, the U.S. EPA has agreed to remove the “Restrictions on Navigational Dredging Activities” Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) from the Black River Area of Concern (AOC). 

BUIs identify specific problems that can prevent a waterbody from meeting its water quality targets. In 1987, the International Joint Commission (IJC) designated the Black River as one of 43 AOCs in the Great Lakes basin. In 1992, the Black River AOC advisory committee identified nine BUIs which were of concern, causing a degrading of the Black River, and needed to be addressed.  Black River sediment had been heavily contaminated by discharges predominately from historical steel production. Sediment remediation in the river and other cleanup work at industrial sites in the Black River AOC led to improvements in the sediment.

“The removal of this BUI demonstrates the continuing improvements in water quality in the Black River,” Ohio Lake Erie Commission Executive Director Joy Mulinex said. “This milestone recognizes the improved conditions and will allow greater use of the river.”

Research and data evaluations found that the sediment in the Lorain Harbor Federal Navigation Channel has the potential to be beneficially used and meets the restoration targets.  Sediment conditions in the navigation channel of the river have improved significantly over the last 25 years, prompting the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and Ohio EPA to request that this impairment designation be removed in coordination with the Black River Advisory Committee and US EPA.

This significant milestone was achieved through restoration actions in and adjacent to the Black River with the collaborative efforts of dedicated local, state, and federal partners. In March 2022, OLEC and Ohio EPA issued an invitation for public comment as part of the removal recommendation process. Evaluation and final completion of actions are underway to remove the five remaining BUIs. As each BUI removal goal is met, Ohio Lake Erie Commission and Ohio EPA will notify the community, seek public input, and submit additional BUI removal recommendations to U.S. EPA.

More information about the improvements and remaining impairments in the Black River Area of Concern are available online: https://www.blackriveraoc.com/.

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission was established for the purpose of preserving Lake Erie's natural resources, protecting the quality of its waters and ecosystem, and promoting economic development in the region. The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) serves as the commission's chairman. Additional members include the directors of the state departments of Transportation, Health, Development Services, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and seven additional members of the public appointed by the governor.



For more information, contact:

James Lee, Ohio EPA
(614) 644-2160

Lynn Garrity, Ohio Lake Erie Commission
(614) 506-0619