FOR RELEASE: July 8, 2010 CONTACT: Heather Lauer or Dina Pierce, (614) 644-2160
Ohio EPA Seeks Comments About Lower Little Miami Stream Study, July 29 Meetings Will Cover Report Findings
Ohio EPA will hold two public meetings on July 29, 2010, to explain the results of a three-year study of the Lower Little Miami River watershed. The first meeting will begin at 1 p.m. at the Wilmington Municipal Building, 69 North South St., Wilmington. The second meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Milford Council chambers, 745 Center St., Milford.
Several areas of the Lower Little Miami River watershed have exceptional water quality; however, there are problems at several locations in the watershed. The draft report identifies the problems and outlines improvements that residents and municipalities can make to help improve water quality.
The Little Miami watershed drains a 1,756-square-mile area in Southwestern Ohio. Ohio EPA’s study focused on the lower Little Miami between Caesar Creek Lake and the Ohio River, excluding the East Fork of the Little Miami River and its tributaries. This portion of the watershed drains parts of Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren counties. A similar study was conducted of the upper Little Miami River in 2002.
Water quality standards are based on designated uses. These reflect the water’s potential to be used by people and support a healthy biological community. The federal Clean Water Act requires Ohio to identify streams that do not meet water quality standards and determine what is needed to bring the affected waters into compliance. This is done through the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process.
The TMDL process generally determines the maximum load of pollutants a water body can receive on a daily basis without violating water quality standards. The program also 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 areas and agricultural areas.
In the study area, the Little Miami River showed exceptional quality with a wide variety and large number of pollution-sensitive species. Of the 25 sites sampled, 24 meet the state’s highest aquatic life standards. Tributary streams met goals for aquatic communities at 57 percent of the sites, but 35 percent met only some goals and 12 percent did not meet any.
Some of the water quality problems in smaller streams have been attributed to drought the year monitoring occurred. Other impaired sites were most affected by wastewater discharges where nutrients and organic substances are pollutants of concern. While water quality supports healthy fish and insect populations, 38 percent of all sites sampled had high bacteria levels and failed to meet water quality standards for recreational use.
Most of the bacteriologic impairment to the tributaries was in the Todd Fork watershed surrounding Wilmington, Blanchester and Butlerville. Suspected bacteria sources include sewer overflows, inadequately treated wastewater and storm runoff. The Lytle and Second Creek watersheds as well as Muddy and Turtle creeks show problems with inadequately treated sewage from home septic systems. While Ohio EPA can address some of the water quality problems through regulatory actions like permitting, other actions (i.e. proper maintenance of home sewage systems and appropriate manure management) require voluntary actions of local residents and landowners. The Agency will work with local communities to achieve continued improvements within the watershed.
Comments on the draft study may be submitted by August 16, 2010. Anyone wishing to submit comments can write to Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, Attention: Gregg Sablak, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>. After considering comments, Ohio EPA will finalize the report and submit it to U.S. EPA for approval. The draft report can be found at http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dsw/tmdl/LittleMiamiRiverLowerTMDL.aspx . For more information or for copies of related materials, call Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water at (614) 644-2001.