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Draft Water Quality Report Issued for Lower Sandusky River, Sandusky Bay Tributaries
An Ohio EPA draft water quality report about the lower Sandusky River watershed and smaller Sandusky Bay tributary is available for public review and comment. The Agency is accepting comments on the draft report until May 19, 2014.
Ohio EPA, in conjunction with the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition, will host two public meetings on April 30 to discuss the report and listen to public comments. The first meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the Ballville Fire Community Hall, 1413 W. Cole Road, Fremont. The second meeting is at 6 p.m. in the Perkins Township House, 2610 Columbus Ave., Sandusky.
Stream data was collected throughout the watershed in 2009. The draft report includes conclusions from the data analysis and suggestions for improving water quality. Ohio EPA works with federal, state and local partners to accomplish improvements.
The watershed includes parts of Erie, Ottawa, Sandusky, Seneca and Wood counties, draining 870 square miles. The watershed is mostly cropland and includes 23 municipalities including Tiffin, Fremont, Sandusky, Fostoria, Clyde, Bascom, Bellevue, Green Springs and Castalia.
The watershed is the drinking water source for Bellevue, Clyde and Fremont, serving about 35,000 people. Throughout the watershed, there are 120 facilities with permits from Ohio EPA to discharge wastewater.
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 of the strategies for improving their watershed.
The report suggests a number of actions that can improve water quality, including:
- reducing pollutant loading from wastewater treatment systems;
- reducing pollutant loading from cropland drainage; and
- reducing bacteria, nutrient and organic loading from poorly functioning septic 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 on a daily basis 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.
Comments on the draft report may be mailed to Gregg Sablak, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by May 19, 2014. Comments received after this date may be considered as time permits. After consideration of comments, Ohio EPA will submit the report to U.S. EPA for approval.
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. Since then, 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.