The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has released draft rule revisions for water quality goals for waterways in eight of the state’s 23 drainage basins, including the Portage River basin.
To meet goals outlined in the federal Clean Water Act for attaining suitable conditions for fishing and swimming, the Ohio EPA periodically updates the water quality standards to reflect current scientific data. The agency is basing its proposed rule changes on sampling conducted from 2007 through last year.
The on-going monitoring schedule includes surveys of the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of the water bodies to determine the present condition and appropriate uses.
Other basins covered by the proposed revisions, include those spanning the Sandusky, Grand, Huron, Great Miami, Muskingum, and Mahoning rivers and Mill Creek.
What the EPA calls “beneficial use designations” are the water quality goals for lakes, rivers, streams and other water bodies.
Designations include such uses suitable for aquatic life habitat (warmwater, coldwater, etc.), recreation (bathing waters, primary contact, and secondary contact) and water supplies (public, agricultural and industrial).
Specific water quality criteria are associated with each beneficial use. Together, the uses and criteria may be the basis for pollutant limits in wastewater discharge permits.
Changes being considered include updating use designations for specific water bodies; adding water bodies that are currently undesignated in the rules; verifying existing use designations; and identifying locations of public water supply intakes
For example, under the aquatic life designation, two water bodies in the Portage River watershed and one in the nearby Cedar Creek watershed are being considered for re-designation from the limited resource water category to warm water habitat category.
The re-designation will result in more stringent chemical criteria for pollutants.
Comments on the draft rules will be accepted until Dec. 20. Copies of the draft and supporting documentation may be requested by contacting Chris Skalski at (614) 644-2144.
The draft and a fact sheet are also posted on the Ohio EPA website.