Human Health Use (Fish Tissue)
Fish tissue data was available for approximately half of Ohio’s watershed assessment units and two-thirds of publicly-owned lakes. About one-third of monitored watershed assessment units and one-half of the monitored lakes were assessed as being unimpaired for this use. Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination, primarily a result of historic industrial sources and old landfill discharges, continues to be the cause of most of the human health use impairments. Mercury is the second leading cause of human health use impairments after PCBs.
More information about the human health (fish tissue) use assessment results can be found in Section E of the report.
For Lake Erie public beaches, the frequency of swimming advisories varies widely, ranging from near zero at Battery Park, East Harbor State Park, Lakeside and South Bass Island State Park to nearly 40 percent or more at Bay View West, Edson Creek, Euclid State Park, Lakeshore Park, Lakeview, Maumee Bay State Park (Erie), Sherod, Sims, Veteran’s, Villa Angela State Park and White’s Landing beaches.
For inland streams, of the 170 assessment units having sufficient data available to determine the recreation use assessment status in 2018, eight percent fully supported the use while 92 percent did not support the use. All six of the large river units evaluated in this cycle failed to support the recreation use. However, the Huron River mainstem, although not a large river assessment unit, was documented to fully support the recreation use.
As for inland lakes, the frequency of exceedances during the five-year reporting period was 13.8 percent, slightly higher than the 12.4 percent rate reported in the 2016 report. There were 28 inland lake beaches where the aggregated exceedance frequency was more than 10 percent with the highest being 66 percent at the Brooks Park beach at Buckeye Lake and followed closely by Buckeye Lake’s Crystal Beach at 60 percent.
The western basin of Lake Erie has also been assessed for recreation use impacted by significant algae biomass present during the recreation season. As a result, Ohio is listing the shorelines and open water in the western basin as impaired for recreation use.
More information about the recreation use assessment results can be found in Section F of the report.
Aquatic Life Use
The bulk of the new data evaluated for the aquatic life use is in areas Ohio EPA sampled during 2015 and 2016. Watersheds intensively monitored during 2015 and 2016 included the St. Mary’s River basin, selected Lake Erie Central Basin tributaries, selected direct tributaries to the Maumee River, selected Southeast Ohio River tributaries, selected Southwest Ohio River tributaries, the Conotton Creek basin, the Raccoon Creek basin and the Symmes Creek basin. The only large rivers comprehensively reassessed were the Whitewater River, Cuyahoga River and Raccoon Creek but updates for specific segments of the Auglaize River, Maumee River, Great Miami River, Little Miami River, Muskingum River, Tuscarawas River, Walhonding River and Scioto River were also completed with a lesser number of sites. Detailed watershed survey reports for many of the basins mentioned above are or will be available from Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water (see Biological and Water Quality Report Index, epa.ohio.gov/dsw/document_index/psdindx.aspx).
Ohio’s large rivers (the 23 rivers that drain more than 500 square miles) remained essentially unchanged in percent of monitored miles in full attainment compared to the same statistic reported in the 2016 integrated report.
Based on monitoring through 2016, the full attainment statistic now stands at 87.5 percent (1,089 of 1,243 assessed large river assessment unit miles), up 0.1 percent from the 2016 integrated report. Significant large rivers assessed for the 2018 integrated report included the Whitewater River (2013 external data), Cuyahoga River (2016 external data) and Raccoon Creek (2016). Attainment statistics for these three rivers (three large river assessment units) are as follows.
- Whitewater River: 100 percent full EWH attainment over 8.3 miles
- Cuyahoga River: 61.3 percent full WWH attainment over 24.2 miles
- Raccoon Creek: 100 percent full WWH attainment over 37.6 miles
More information about the aquatic life use assessment results can be found in Section G of the report.
Public Drinking Water Supply Use
Human health impacts related to drinking water focus on nitrate, pesticides and cyanotoxins (due to certain algae). In Ohio, 110 public water systems use surface water (excluding Ohio River intakes) in 119 separate assessment units.
Sufficient data were available to complete nitrate evaluations for half of the assessment units of which 6 percent were identified as impaired and 45 percent were in full support. Of the large rivers, three Maumee River and one Sandusky River assessment unit remain impaired and there is a new impairment on one Scioto River assessment unit. Most of the 31 waters placed on the nitrate watch list are in northwestern Ohio.
Pesticides were evaluated for 35 assessment units. Five of the assessment units were impaired while the remaining were in full support. There were no new assessment units identified as impaired due to pesticides. A total of 21 assessment units were placed on the pesticide watch list because of elevated atrazine. These areas of elevated atrazine coincide with the predominantly agricultural land use in western and northwestern Ohio.
The monitoring of microcystins and cyanobacteria by Ohio public water systems greatly increased the data available to assess the algae indicator. Sufficient data were available to list 31 percent of the assessment units as impaired due to algae, including 17 new assessment units identified as impaired this reporting cycle. The impairment listing includes all assessment units in Lake Erie with drinking water intakes. In addition, 28 watershed assessment units and three large river assessment units are now assessed as impaired. An additional 17 assessment units were also placed on the algae watch list. Watershed assessment units that are impaired or on the watch list for cyanotoxins were found distributed across Ohio virtually in every geographic region.
More information about the public drinking water supply use assessment results can be found in Section H of the report.
Aquatic Life Use Attainment – 2018
Click to enlarge image.