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Draft Water Quality Report Issued for Lima Region's Ottawa River
The Ottawa River in the Lima area has made a marked recovery over the past 25 years. Dramatic improvements were made in the fish population, according to a water quality report being issued by Ohio EPA on Friday.
The draft report details findings on the Ottawa River and its tributary streams in Allen, Putnam and Hardin counties, and small parts of Hancock and Auglaize counties. Ohio EPA is accepting public comments on the draft report until May 20, 2013.
Stream data were collected in 2010. The report includes conclusions from the data analysis and suggestions for further improving water quality. Of the sites sampled, 68 percent fully met biological goals and 23 percent partially met goals. Biological goals measure the health and diversity of fish and macroinvertebrate species in the streams.
The Ottawa River drains a 365-square mile area that includes urban, suburban and highly industrialized areas in Lima, as well as agricultural land and small towns outside the city. Ohio EPA has partnered with the Ottawa River Coalition, a group comprised of local governments, businesses and industries, to work improvements.
Most of the impairments identified in the study are caused by nutrient and organic enrichment from combined sewer overflows, point source discharges and agricultural runoff; altered natural habitat, including dams and a lack of woody vegetation along the streams; and bacteria from sewer overflows, failing septic systems and small communities without centralized sewer systems.
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 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.
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 strategies for improving their watershed.
Comments on the draft report may be mailed to Beth Risley, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049 or emailed to email@example.com by May 20. Comments received after this date may be considered as time permits. After consideration of comments, Ohio EPA will submit the document to U.S. EPA for approval. The draft report and fact sheet are available online.
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. In the past 40 years, 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. Ohio EPA….40 years and moving forward.