Huron and Vermilion Rivers and Old Woman and Chappel Creeks Watersheds

Huron and Vermilion Rivers and Old Woman CreekThe Huron River, Vermilion River and Old Woman Creek watersheds are located in northern Ohio.  They drain a total of 765 square miles and flow through all or part of seven counties.  Major municipalities partially or fully in the watershed include Huron, Vermilion, Norwalk and Willard.  The watersheds are predominantly comprised of cultivated crops with some forest and occasional pockets of urban development.

 

 

 

 

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Huron River Watershed

Huron River watershedThe Huron River watershed is located on the south shore of Lake Erie between Toledo and Cleveland, in Huron, Erie, Seneca, Richland and Crawford counties.  The Huron River is 59.7 miles long and the watershed covers 403 square miles.  The East Branch serves as the public drinking water supply for the City of Norwalk, and The Village of Monroeville draws its water supply from the West Branch Huron River.  Land use is primarily dedicated to agricultural activities with approximately 74 percent cropland, 15 percent woodland, and 3 to 11 percent urban and other land uses.

Even with the increase in conservation tillage practices on agricultural lands during the last ten years, the Huron River remains as having among the highest suspended sediment yields in the state of Ohio, and the second highest in the Lake Erie Basin, according to the soil conservation service.  Many small streams have been channelized to assist drainage in the level, poorly drained soils of Huron and Seneca counties.  Several areas in the three subwatersheds contain soils in the highly erodible lands category that are subject to either water or wind erosion above the tolerable erosion rate.

The three cities and ten villages within the Huron River basin are all served by wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) that discharge into streams within the watershed.  Commercial establishments, schools, subdivisions, mobile home parks, and industries also discharge wastewater to Huron River basin streams under the authority of individual or general NPDES permits.


Monitoring

Ohio EPA conducted biological surveys within the watershed in 1998 and again in 2002, and found impairment of the aquatic life and recreation designated uses.  The primary causes of impairment include nutrients, organic enrichment, habitat alteration, and siltation.  Habitat alteration and siltation are problems particularly important for streams within small drainage areas that have been impacted by agricultural runoff and channelization.  To a much lesser extent, stream water quality is affected by sewage treatment plant discharges.

According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be studied in 2017.

TMDL Report

The Huron River Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was approved by U.S. EPA on September 28, 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.

Some of the recommended solutions to address the impairment include promoting continued conservation tillage farming practices, public education, habitat restoration, additional storm management controls, elimination or minimization of combined sewer overflows, and assessing the need for sewers in unsewered communities.  Changes in the designated use from warmwater habitat to modified warmwater habitat are also recommended for some impaired, small drainage areas that we believe have no likelihood of achieving warmwater habitat.

Supplemental Information

Implementation

There is no implementation information available at this time.


Vermilion River Watershed

Vermilion River watershedThe Vermilion River watershed is located in northern Ohio west of Cleveland.  It drains 269 square miles and flows through part of five counties.  Land use in the watershed is predominantly comprised of cultivated crops with pockets of pasture and hay lands, urban development and forest.  Municipalities include Vermilion, New London, Greenwich and Wakeman.








Monitoring

According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be studied in 2021.

TMDL Report

On July 25, 2005, Ohio EPA provided for public review and comment the draft Vermilion River Watershed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Report, which was developed in fulfillment of Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.  The public review period ended on August 26, 2005.

The report was delayed because of litigation in other states.

Supplemental Information

Implementation

There is no implementation information available at this time.

Old Woman Creek and Chappel Creek

Old Woman and Chappel CreeksThe Old Woman Creek and Chappel Creek watershed contains tributaries to Lake Erie located east of the Huron River and west of the Vermilion River in northern Ohio.  The total drainage area is 83.2 square miles.  Old Woman Creek is the site of Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is the country’s only non-ocean coast estuary research reserve.  It has one of the few remaining natural coastal wetlands along the Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio.









Monitoring

Ohio EPA surveyed the status of the water quality in this watershed during 2000 and 2002.  In the Old Woman Creek watershed, primary causes of impairment include heavy siltation and habitat alteration caused by agricultural uses.  Most of the sediment problems are occurring in the till plain in the upper region of the watershed.  The report concludes that increasing participation in conservation farming practices may alleviate much of the problem.  Habitat restoration efforts, including planting trees and restoring the natural flow of the creek, also would improve water quality.

According to the 2012 Integrated Report, the watershed will next be studied in 2021.

TMDL Report

The Old Woman and Chappel Creeks Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was approved by U.S. EPA on August 31, 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.

The TMDL report identifies future development as a potential threat to the stream’s health.  Plans to provide county water throughout the region will likely spur new housing.  The report urges cooperation among local officials to take steps to prevent additional storm water runoff and bacterial contamination to the stream.

Only one portion of Chappel Creek is impaired.  This also is attributed to crop production.  Conservation farming practices, including controlling fertilizer runoff and erosion, should help restore that section of the creek.

The report proposes several strategies to help both watersheds meet their designated use under Ohio's water quality standards.  Ohio EPA has been working with local organizations, including Erie County and Huron County Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Old Woman Creek National Estuary staff, to achieve continued improvements within the watershed.

Supplemental Information

Implementation

There is no implementation information available at this time.