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Water Quality Management Plans (CWA Sections 208 and 303)

Water Quality Management (208) plans describe and promote efficient and comprehensive programs for controlling water pollution from point and nonpoint sources in a defined geographic area. Ohio EPA reviews and updates, as necessary, the state's 208 Plan.

Areawide Councils of Governments act as the lead planning agencies in 24 Ohio counties (those with large urban populations). These Areawide Agencies prepare and approve the 208 Plan in their counties. The State of Ohio prepares and maintains the 208 Plan applicable in the remaining 64 counties. The Governor then certifies the entire 208 Plan via submission to U.S. EPA for their approval.


The What is a Water Quality Management Plan? has been recently updated.

What is a Water Quality Management Plan?

Ohio EPA oversees the State Water Quality Management (WQM) Plan. The State WQM Plan is a requirement of Section 303 of the Clean Water Act and must include nine (9) discrete elements:

  1. Total maximum daily loads (TMDLs)
  2. Effluent limits
  3. Municipal and industrial waste treatment
  4. Nonpoint source management and control
  5. Management agencies
  6. Implementation measures
  7. Dredge and fill program
  8. Basin plans
  9. Ground water

In layperson terms, the State WQM Plan is an encyclopedia of information used to plot and direct actions that abate pollution and preserve clean water. A wide variety of issues are addressed and are framed within the context of applicable law and regulations. For some issues and locales, information about local communities may be covered in the plan. Other issues are covered only at a statewide level. Many of the topics or issues overlap with planning requirements of CWA Section 208 (items 3-9 above). The State WQM Plan includes, through references to separate documents, all 208 plans in the State.

Clean Water Act Section 208 (33 U.S.C. 1288) and Section 303 (33 U.S.C. 1313), and the federal regulations that addresses these plans (40 C.F.R. Part 130), are available through the Cornell University Web site.

NEW! History of Water quality management planning agencies in Ohio

Government Entities Responsible for 208 Planning in Ohio

Areawide Planning Agency 208 Plan

The 208 plans, or areawide waste management treatment plans, can only be prepared by the State of Ohio or one of the six areawide planning agencies listed below. See background information on the areawide planning agencies. Each areawide planning agency maintains a single 208 plan covering the counties in its jurisdiction. Those 24 counties are shown in color on the map below.

State of Ohio 208 Plan

The State of Ohio is responsible for maintaining the 208 plan applicable in the remaining 64 counties. Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water currently has the role of compiling 208 plan content for the Governor's certification as part of the State WQM Plan. This Web site provides access to the current State WQM Plan as well as information about on-going work to reshape its format and content.

a map illustration

Eastgate Regional Council of Governments
City Centre One Building
100 East Federal Street, Suite 1000
Youngstown, Ohio 44503
(330) 779-3800

Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission
One Dayton Center
One South Main Street, Suite 260
Dayton, Ohio 45402
(937) 223-6323

Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization
175 South Main Street, Suite 211
Akron, Ohio 44308
(330) 643-8514
Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency
1299 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
(216) 241-2414
Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments
720 East Pete Rose Way, Suite 420
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
(513) 621-6300
Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments
P.O. Box 9508
Toledo, Ohio 43697-9508
(419) 241-9155

Role of Local Governments

Local governments typically conduct planning to meet the sewage disposal needs of the community. Ohio EPA has established guidelines for planning that are useful in the context of Section 208 and the State Water Quality Management Plan. Local governments that follow these guidelines are more likely to have the results of their planning work incorporated into the State 208 plan prepared by Ohio EPA. The Areawide Planning Agencies have established their own operating protocols, committees and processes to involve local governments in shaping their 208 plans.

Planning should account for long range sewer and treatment needs by looking at projections for community growth and development. Comprehensive land use planning, where available, is an excellent tool that can help those assessing the sewage disposal needs of a community or group of communities. In highly populated areas regional solutions involving several communities have proven to be a cost-effective means to solve sewage disposal problems in urban and suburban areas.

New development patterns have recently emerged near some population centers that is neither urban or suburban in character. The term exurbs has been used to describe a mix of land use and population densities located on the fringes of major cities. Meeting the sewage disposal needs in exurb communities poses new challenges that could be cooperatively addressed through local facility planning and updated 208 plans.

In conclusion, sewage disposal needs can be met in a variety of ways dependent upon the situation, but in all cases local and State regulations must be followed to protect public health and safety, to ensure sanitary conditions and to avoid contamination of surface and ground waters.

 Want more information about the various governmental jurisdictions and private concerns that operate sewage systems? 

Facility Planning Guidelines that Help Address 208 Planning Needs

Entities performing wastewater facility planning should consider these points in order to assist the State with information that can be included in the updated State 208 plan. Communities located in a county where an Areawide Planning Agency is responsible for Section 208 Planning should contact the appropriate Areawide Planning Agency. Key terms (underlined) used below can be found in the glossary tab. 


Materials Submitted in Facility Plan

1. Delineate current service area

Provide up to date maps of the current sewer service area with all trunk lines and pump stations shown. If possible these maps should be in a standard GIS format, or a CAD format transferable to GIS software.

2. Evaluate sewer system conditions

Identify needed improvements; provide cost estimates.

3. Evaluate need for additional sewer service area

Define a study area (FPA); delineate the geographic area that was evaluated relative to growth/development and the need for central sewers (provide on map).

4. Delineate projected service area

Forecast and map new areas expected to be sewered in the next 20 years (projected service area); provide cost estimates.

5. Develop prescriptions for wastewater treatment in areas without sewers

Evaluate options and select interim prescriptions for areas expected to be sewered within 20 years;
Evaluate options and select permanent prescriptions for areas not expected to have sewers.

6. Evaluate wastewater treatment capacity

Itemize improvements, if any, to meet current needs (population now served) and provide cost estimates.

7. Determine future capacity need for treatment

Forecasts of population growth and other demands used to assess the treatment capacity needed in next 20 years.

8. Evaluate future wastewater treatment capacity options

Identify feasible alternatives, select most likely option(s);
Itemize improvements to meet future needs and provide cost estimates.

9. Develop general plan to implement improvements

Provide a capital improvement plan to finance necessary sewer and treatment upgrades;
Include a schedule for improvements (sewers and treatment plant);
Provide an operation and maintenance plan.

10. Qualify as Management Agency

Agree to provide services indicated in 208 plan; 
Obtain written agreements with other governmental jurisdictions if service involves more than one jurisdiction.

Government & Private Entities Providing Centralized Sewage Collection and Treatment Under Ohio Law

All these entities must obtain permits from Ohio EPA to discharge or land apply treated sewage; such permits must comply with all applicable state water quality standards, including antidegradation, and must not conflict with an approved 208 plan.

2021 Certification Update

2021 Plan Update

2019 Certification Update

2006 WQM Plan

Nov. 29, 2006 - Governor Taft has certified a major update of the State Water Quality Management (WQM) Plan, including elements of areawide waste treatment management plans (a.k.a. 208 Plans). The plan was formally certified and submitted to U.S. EPA on Sept. 1, 2006 and U.S. EPA approved the Plan on Nov. 14, 2006 (see Correspondence tab). The package included 208 plan updates or amendments prepared by five of the six Areawide planning agencies in Ohio.

Ohio EPA sought public input on the Plan in several ways, including soliciting updated facility planning information from local communities, holding informational meetings and having a formal comment period on the draft Plan. Comments submitted and the Agency's Responsiveness Summary are available below.

Local officials, planners and the public are encouraged to browse this Web site to learn more about the State WQM Plan and the 208 Plans. Our goal is to create clear and concise plans that protect water quality throughout the State. Major highlights of the State WQM Plan that will be of the most interest to local community leaders are listed below.

Highlights of the 2006 State WQM Plan

Issue Where to find it
Big Darby Creek storm water permit; lifting sewer moratorium in western Franklin County (ESDA) Appendix 9-1 (see individual county sections) 
Appendix 9-3
Other revisions of 2002 Central Scioto Plan Update, including lock-in and opt out requests Appendix 9-1, Franklin County section
Other emerging water quality issues in Central Ohio, specific prescriptions for local facility planning Chapters 8 and 9
Appendices 8-1 and 9-1, especially noteworthy are:
Champaign County
Fairfield County
Licking County
Erie County, formerly part of TMACOG regional planning Appendix 9-1 Erie County section
Appendix 9-4

The documents listed below are recent Areawide Agency 208 Plan updates incorporated into the 2006 State WQM Plan.

List of Updates to Areawide Agency 208 Plans

Agency Date Title/Content Note
ERCOG Varies Amendments to Area Water Quality Plan, Mahoning and Trumbull Counties, Ohio/Facility Planning Area boundaries, wastewater prescriptions and amendment process, per General Policy Board Resolution #s 024-2001, 058-2001, 046-3003, 033-2004
MVRPC N/A None at this time
NOACA 06/2005 Areawide Water Quality Plan , 2005 Update to Clean Water 2000 Plan/per resolutions 2005-030; changes to Chapter 4-Wastewater Management Facility Planning; five FPA boundary changes; updated sewer planning options map; certified community-level population and employment allocations
09/2005 Clean Water 2000 Water Quality Management Plan
Facility Planning Area Boundary Change
/resolution 2005-042; changes to Greater Mentor/Painesville FPA
NEFCO 07/2005 Clean Water Plan Ohio River Basin Update Water Quality Management Plan, facility plan updates for Twinsburg and Akron, and Ohio EPA addendum/comprehensive update to 208 Plan
OKI 11/10/05 Amendment #30 Regional Water Quality Management Plan/Facility Planning Area updates in Warren County
TMACOG 10/2005 TMACOG Areawide Water Quality Management Plan/comprehensive review and update of 208 Plan

The Plan is available below. The maps presented in Appendix 9-2 are PDF files. They were developed with ESRI ArcMap 9.1 software and are available in that format upon request.

Ohio EPA Materials

2006 State WQM Plan

Responsiveness Summary


Areawide Agency 208 Plan Materials

Index of Earlier Plans

Ohio EPA Materials

  1. Initial Water Quality Management Plans for major river basins 
  2. Water Quality Management Plan Certification - 1986 (available from Ohio EPA)
  3. Water Quality Management Plan Certification - 1989 (available from Ohio EPA)
  4. Water Quality Management Plan Certification - 1993 (available from Ohio EPA)
  5. Water Quality Management Plan - Scioto River Basin and Blacklick Creek - 2002 (a.k.a. Central Scioto Plan Update)

Areawide Planning Agency Materials

Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC)

  1. 208 Areawide Water Quality Management Plan 1983. For information, contact MVRPC at (937) 223-6323.

Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA)

  1. Clean Water 2000 (208 Water Quality Management Plan for Northeast Ohio) - November 2000
  2. Clean Water 2000 Water Quality Management Plan - Facility Planning Area Boundary Update - December 2003 

Northeast Ohio Four County Regional Planning and Development Organization (NEFCO)

  1. Clean Water Plan - 208 Lake Erie Basin Water Quality Management Plan - June 19, 2003 

Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI)

  1. Amendment # 29 
  2. Amendment # 28 
  3. Amendment # 27 
  4. For information about amendments 1 through 26, contact Jane Wittke at OKI, (513) 621-6300.
  5. Regional Water Quality Management Plan - June 1977


Pursuant to federal regulations, the Governor certifies the State WQM Plan and submits it to U.S. EPA for approval. Some of the recent correspondence documenting these steps is available below. Additional materials are on file and are available upon request.




Feb. 3, 2015 U.S. EPA approval letter ERCOG, TMACOG, OKI, NOACA, NEFCO
Aug 28, 2014 Governor certification letter ERCOG, TMACOG, OKI, NOACA, NEFCO
Dec. 11, 2012  U.S. EPA approval letter  ERCOG, TMACOG, OKI, NOACA, NEFCO, MVRPC 
Aug. 15, 2012  Governor certification letter  ERCOG, TMACOG, OKI, NOACA, NEFCO, MVRPC 

Jan. 5, 2011

U.S. EPA approval letter


Sept. 3, 2010

Governor certification letter


May 20, 2008

U.S. EPA approval letter


March 27, 2008

Governor certification letter


June 4, 2007

Transmittal of errata page

Lithopolis, Canal Winchester

Nov. 14, 2006

U.S. EPA approval letter

State 208 Plan for 42 counties, ERCOG, NEFCO, NOACA, OKI, TMACOG

Sept. 1, 2006

Governor certification letter

State 208 Plan for 42 counties, ERCOG, NEFCO, NOACA, OKI, TMACOG

Aug. 25, 2004

U.S. EPA approval letter


June 9, 2004

Governor certification letter


Nov. 24, 2003

U.S. EPA approval letter

Scioto River Basin and Blacklick Creek

July 17, 2002

U.S. EPA approval letter

NOACA "Clean Water 2001"

Nov. 14, 2001

Governor certification letter

NOACA "Clean Water 2001"


208 plan - See areawide waste treatment management plan.

areawide plan - See areawide waste treatment management plan.

areawide planning agency (areawide) - An agency, designated by the Governor of Ohio under authority of Section 208 of the Clean Water Act, which has responsibilities for areawide waste treatment management planning within a specified area of a State.

areawide waste treatment management plan (AWTMP) - A plan authorized under Section 208 of the Clean Water Act to develop a comprehensive program(s) for the treatment of water and for controlling water pollution from all point and non-point sources in the geographic area. Commonly known as 208 plans or Areawide Plans. Initial plans were prepared in the 1970's and were a key product necessary for the operation of the construction grant program which provided federal funds for the design and construction of sewage collection and treatment facilities. The 208 plans are updated periodically by the responsible areawide planning agency or the State.

continuing planning process (CPP) - The mechanisms, procedures and methods used in the State to carry out a variety of inter-related programs pursuant to Section 303(e) of the Clean Water Act. Ohio EPA maintains, and periodically updates, a CPP document with the required information.

facility planning area (FPA) - A discrete geographical planning area of sufficient scope to allow for an analysis of various alternatives for the treatment and disposal of wastewater. An FPA established as part of the Section 201 construction grants program was a "study area" for determining the needs and cost effective methods of providing sewer service, and was not intended to equate to a service area. FPA's will continue to be viewed as study areas unless the applicable areawide planning agency establishes alternative definitions as part of the area's 208 plan update. Click here for an example of an FPA.

management agency (MA) - An existing or newly created local, regional, or state agency, political subdivision or other entity that has been given specific water pollution abatement or control responsibilities under the 208 plan. As stipulated in the Clean Water Act, MAs must have the legal authority, managerial capacity and financial resources to carry out assigned responsibilities, and MAs agree to implement the abatement or control measures contained in the 208 plan. Click here for an example of Designated Management Agency delegations.

prescriptions for wastewater treatment - The wastewater management option(s) agreed upon by local communities and the agency responsible for the 208 plan and included in the 208 plan. Prescriptions should be based upon up-to-date planning information and represent current judgments about: when and where central sewer service will be provided within a defined geographic area; through what means; and by which management agency(ies).

projected service area - A discrete geographic area within a facility planning area where population projections, local comprehensive land use planning and other valid means lead to the conclusion that sewer service and central wastewater treatment will likely be needed within a defined planning time horizon (time variable dependent upon local circumstances, typically set at 20 years or less). However, the necessary major infrastructure (e.g., trunk sewer lines, lift stations, interceptors, treatment capacity) to provide for sewage collection and/or treatment does not presently exist.

service area - A discrete geographic area within which a specific governmental jurisdiction or other entity has the authority and major infrastructure needs in place (e.g., trunk sewer lines, lift stations, interceptors, treatment capacity) to provide for the collection and treatment of sewage. The collection and/or treatment of sewage may be provided through legally executed contracts for such services, or other forms of intergovernmental agreements deemed acceptable to the parties involved.

State water quality management plan (WQM Plan) - The planning document prepared by the State of Ohio EPA and certified by the governor pursuant to Sections 208 and 303(e) of the Clean Water Act and regulations at 40 CFR 130.6. The WQM Plan includes initial 208 or areawide plans, or portions thereof that remain relevant, subsequent updates of these areawide plans, and other information required by Section 303(e) (e.g., total maximum daily loads and effluent limits). The WQM Plan has been prepared for specific geographic areas of the State and it includes the separate areawide plans developed by the six areawide agencies.



Ashley Ward 

Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water 

50 W. Town Street, Suite 700

PO Box 1049

Columbus, OH 43216-1049

(614) 644-4852