Study of Southwest Ohio River Tributaries Released

Public Comment Period Open through July 23

Two aquatic insects never previously recorded in Ohio were found during an Ohio EPA study of 65 streams that flow into the Ohio River in Southwest Ohio. Today, Ohio EPA released the study, which examines water quality, sediment chemistry, habitat, fish, and other aquatic life from small streams that drain portions of Adams, Brown, and Scioto counties. 

Ohio EPA is accepting public comments about the study, which can be found online, through July 23, 2020.

The study shows that 29 of these small tributaries have excellent water quality and have been recommended for cold water habitat or exceptional warm water habitat designations, which are the highest quality designations. These streams have healthy and diverse fish and macroinvertebrate populations. Seventy-three percent of the locations monitored were fully meeting their water quality expectations.

The study area included streams located between White Oak Creek and the Scioto River, including Straight Creek, Eagle Creek, Turkey Creek, and Upper and Lower Twin Creek, plus Lake Waynoka in Brown County, and Turkey Creek Lake located in Shawnee State Park, Scioto County.
The sampling locations found 43 uncommon macroinvertebrate species, especially in streams east of Ohio Brush Creek. These pollution-sensitive species included a type of mayfly collected in Mackenzie Run and Waggoner Run, and a type of caddisfly collected in Puntenney Run and Scott Run that had never been found in Ohio.

Three locations have impairments due to a water treatment plant and two wastewater treatment plants. Improvements are being made to resolve these issues. Additionally, nine sites had organic enrichment due to livestock with access the streams.

The biological and water quality study is designed to assess the effects of various land uses, evaluate the influences of agricultural, industrial, and commercial discharges and spills, and assess the performance of permitted wastewater treatment plants. The study also evaluates the quality of fish and macroinvertebrate communities in the streams, compares results with historic conditions, and determines if streams are meeting designated aquatic life and human recreation uses.

Further details about the study, data, and maps are contained in the report. The study is the second step in Ohio EPA’s five-step Total Maximum Daily Load process.

Findings in the report along with public comments received will be developed into a Total Maximum Daily Load report, which is a plan to improve water quality in the watershed through potential permit limits on regulated dischargers and/or nonpoint source runoff reduction projects, whichever may be necessary to address water quality impairment at any given location. Ohio EPA works with local communities and watershed groups to implement projects and strategies to achieve water quality goals.

To comment on the study, email EPATMDL@epa.ohio.gov or write to TMDL Program, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049. Comments are due by 5 p.m. July 23.  Subscribe here for updates on this and other Ohio EPA Total Maximum Daily Load projects.


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.

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