Ashtabula River, Chagrin River and Lake Erie Tributaries Watersheds

Ashtabula and Chagrin rivers and Lake Erie tributariesThe Ashtabula River, Chagrin River and Lake Erie tributaries watersheds are located in northeastern Ohio.  They drain a total of 625 square miles and flow through all or part of five counties.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watersheds include Ashtabula, Chardon, Cleveland and some of its suburbs, Mentor and Painesville.

The northern and western portions of the watersheds are predominantly comprised of urban development with pockets of forest and agricultural land uses.  The southern and eastern portions of the watersheds are predominantly comprised of forest, with some hay and pasture lands and pockets of urban development.

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Ashtabula River Watershed

Ashtabula River Watershed

The Ashtabula River watershed drains a total of 127 square miles and flows through Ashtabula County.  The largest municipality in the watershed is the City of Ashtabula.  The southern portion of the watershed is a mixture of agricultural land uses and forest.  The northern portion of the watershed includes some urban development near the Lake Erie shoreline.

A small portion of the watershed crosses over the state border with Pennsylvania. However, the majority of the watershed is located in Ashtabula County. The largest municipality is the City of Ashtabula. The Ashtabula River is a State Scenic River. The Ashtabula Scenic River has a total of 46 continuous designated river miles on three stream segments including the mainstem, East Branch and West Branch.

The lower two miles of the Ashtabula River and its outer harbor were designated an Area of Concern due to severe pollution problems by U.S. EPA in 1988. From the 1940s through the late 1970s, unregulated discharges and mismanagement of hazardous waste caused serious contamination of the river's sediments and degraded its biological communities.


The Ashtabula River is comprised of one watershed:  04110003 01, Ashtabula River.  The watershed was monitored by Ohio EPA in 2011.  According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be monitored in 2026.

The TMDL report is in preparation.

Ohio’s first federal project under the Great Lakes Legacy Act removed 25,000 pounds of hazardous PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and other contaminants from the Ashtabula river bottom.  Workers removed about 497,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and provided new habitat in the river.  Because the sediment could flow into Lake Erie, removing it is good for the lake and the entire Great Lakes basin. A secondary benefit is a much deeper Ashtabula River, allowing for the return of normal commercial navigation and recreational boating in the river and harbor.

Under the Great Lakes Legacy Act funded remediation project, a fish habitat shelf was constructed in the lower Ashtabula River to help restore the fishery in the Area of Concern in 2010. Ohio EPA also secured funding under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to expand the fish habitat shelf along an additional 1,400 feet of shoreline. This project is scheduled for construction in 2012.

Additional work under the Strategic National Dredging program is expected to occur, with completion of all work in 2013.

Chagrin River Watershed

Chagrin River WatershedThe Chagrin River watershed is located in northeast Ohio, flowing through Portage, Geauga, Cuyahoga and Lake Counties on its way to Lake Erie.  Like most of northeast Ohio, the Chagrin River was shaped by glacial activity thousands of years ago.  The resulting soils and geologic deposits contribute to the high quality and varied habitats of the watershed.  The 265-square-mile watershed is characterized by low rounded hills, scattered end moraines, kettles, and areas of wetlands.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watershed include Chardon, Aurora and multiple suburbs of Cleveland.  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 comprised of urban development.

Seventy-one miles of streams in the watershed are designated as a Scenic Rivers.  Stream impacts are generally noted in the tributary streams, while the main stem is generally in attainment.  Although the watershed is experiencing significant development pressure from Cleveland’s population migration to outlying suburbs, the majority of the river retains its riparian forest cover.


The Chagrin River watershed appears on Ohio’s 303(d) list (Ohio’s impaired waters listing) based on past and recent (2003 and 2004) Ohio EPA monitoring.  Causes of impairment are organic enrichment, nutrients, bacteria, flow alteration and degraded habitats.  Major sources of impairment include land development/suburbanization, sewage treatment plants, wetland filling, removal of riparian vegetation, urban storm water and nonpoint sources.  According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be monitored in 2019.

The Chagrin River Watershed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was approved by U.S. EPA on July 10, 2007.  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.

TMDLs were prepared for phosphorus, nitrates, habitat, bacteria, and suspended solids.

Some of the recommended solutions include storm water management, protection and restoration of riparian and headwater areas, promoting balanced growth, evaluation of dams for removal, improving semi-public and home sewage treatment systems, and point source controls.

TMDL Report

Euclid Creek Watershed

Euclid Creek WatershedEuclid Creek is a small Lake Erie tributary flowing through Cuyahoga County and a small part of Lake County.  Approximately 43 miles of stream are included in the 23 square mile watershed.  The watershed is dominated by urban and suburban land use.












Ohio EPA surveyed the status of the water quality in this watershed during 2000.  The study found impairment of the Aquatic Life Use, with the primary causes of impairment identified as nutrient/organic enrichment, flow alteration, and habitat alteration.  Phosphorus concentrations were above target levels.

The Euclid Creek Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was approved by U.S. EPA on September 27, 2005.  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.

TMDLs were calculated for siltation, habitat, and phosphorus.  Some of the recommended solutions include low impact development practices, habitat restoration, and dam removal.  Attainment of the appropriate aquatic life use (Warmwater Habitat biocriteria) will be the measure used to determine success.

Bacteria have historically caused impairment in the watershed.  Continuing elimination of septic tanks is reducing bacteria problems within the watershed.  Additional data are needed to determine if the Recreation Use designation is being met.

This TMDL is unique in that the development of the Watershed Action Plan occurred simultaneously with TMDL development.  Public involvement during the project occurred through a series of public meetings and interaction with the Euclid Creek Council, an assemblage of political entities within the watershed.

The following implementation projects have been completed in the watershed using Ohio EPA funding.


Lake Erie Tributaries

Lake Erie TributariesThe Lake Erie tributaries (including Doan Brook and Arcola Creek) drain a total of 233 square miles and are located in three counties.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watershed include Cleveland and multiple suburbs, Mentor, Painesville and Geneva.  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, some of these watersheds will next be scheduled in 2015.

There is no TMDL information available at this time.

There is no supplemental information available at this time.