Ohio Primary Headwater Habitat Streams

Headwater streams are the small swales, creeks and streams that are the origin of most rivers. These small streams join together to form larger streams and rivers or run directly into larger streams and lakes. Ohio EPA defines a headwater stream as a stream with a watershed less than or equal to 20 square miles. Many streams and drainage ways have a watershed of less than one square mile. We refer to these as “primary headwater” streams.  These streams may be home to small fish, amphibians and invertebrates.

If interested in attending a future training event, please fill out the Training Interest Form [Word Fill-in Form or PDF]  and return it via email to melinda.harris@epa.ohio.gov.





Fact Sheets

Ohio EPA has prepared a set of fact sheets about primary headwater streams to promote a wider understanding of the value and importance of these waters. Local governments, soil and water conservation districts, watershed groups and others are encouraged to learn more and take a variety of steps to promote sound land use management and protection of primary headwater streams.

The Importance and Benefits of Primary Headwater Streams
This fact sheet discusses various areas relating to the importance of primary headwater streams including: the health of larger streams and rivers; sediment, nutrient, and flood control; wildlife habitat; and water and food supplies.

Ohio EPA's Primary Headwater Stream Project: Key Findings
This fact sheet illustrates and discusses the main categories of primary headwater streams.

Nonpoint Source Impacts on Primary Headwater Streams
This fact sheet discusses why primary headwater streams should be protected from nonpoint source impacts, their relation to Ohio’s 319 program, and initiatives that promote improved management of these streams.

Economic Reasons for Sound Management of Primary Headwater Streams
This fact sheet discusses the economic benefits to good stewardship and the proper management of primary headwater streams.

Project Reports & Field Evaluation Methods

Ohio EPA's field study project of primary headwater habitat streams has been completed. The project reports and resulting field evaluation method manuals are available as listed below.

Ohio EPA extends an invitation to all interested outside parties to offer constructive observations, comments and questions on these documents. Please address your remarks or questions to Paul Anderson at the address provided at the end of this page.


Figure 15. PHWH classification flow chart based on HHEI scoring

A higher quality graphic than the one in the manual.

Figure 17. Level 1 Assessment
Figure 18. Level 2 Assessment
Figure 19. Level 3 Assessment

Higher quality graphics than the ones in the manual.

Primary Headwater Habitat Evaluation (HHEI) Form
PHWH Stream Biological Characteristics Field Sheet

"Fill-in" versions.

Salamander voucher form

"Fill-in" version.



Examples of Ohio primary headwater habitat streams

Examples of waters or streams that are not considered primary headwater habitat streams


For additional information contact:

Ohio EPA programs related to primary headwater streams Chris Skalski
DSW Standards & Technical Support Section

(614) 644-2144


Dan Dudley
DSW Standards & Technical Support Section
(614) 644-2876

Field Evaluation Manual or headwater stream field data

Paul Anderson
DSW Northeast District Office
(330) 963-1228


Chris Skalski
DSW Standards & Technical
Support Section
(614) 644-2144