Big Creek

Delisting Status

HUC 041100020603

Big Creek, with an area of 37.37 square miles, is the 5th largest HUC12 in the AOC.

The watershed drains 39 square miles from 7 municipalities (Cleveland, Brooklyn, Linndale, Parma, Parma Heights, Brook Park, and North Royalton.)

The majority of the land in this subwatershed is fully developed (91.4%). The 7.8% forest cover is located mainly near the waterways, which allows for some restoration potential throughout its stretches of streams.

This subwatershed has park systems, and neighborhood stormwater efforts in effect, which aid in the health of these waterways.

Big Creek Connects (formerly Friends of Big Creek) is the local stewardship group that brings local stakeholders together to further the work of restoration. The group has been focusing on various projects that improve stormwater management and riparian habitat, land conservation, and removing barriers to fish passage.

The watershed has a state-approved Balanced Growth land use plan with innovative strategies to retain and treat stormwater running off the extensive paved surfaces and built infrastructure.

BUI 1 - Restrictions on Fish Consumption
in Big Creek

This watershed is in attainment for fish consumption in that restrictions to consumption in this watershed are not more stringent than those called for in the State of Ohio Sport Fish Consumption Advisory.

BUI 3a - Degradation of Fish Populations
in Big Creek

The delisting target for this HUC 12 is an IBI score of 36 for headwaters and an MIwb score of 7.5 for wading (no MIwb score is necessary for headwaters below 20sq miles of drainage) outlined in the OhioEPA Delisting Guidance.

This HUC12's average IBI is 9% below the delisting target, although the limited number of sampling sites (3) suggests that planned sampling of at least a total of 7 sites may drop this average further below target.

Aside from a number of open headwaters at the southern upper creek and the central creek, so much of the streams are in  underground pipes that fish passage is a major challenge. Spillways also create barriers to passage, significantly reducing the chances that fish in the upper streams could freely pass to and from the Cuyahoga.


IMPAIRED = 3a Fish Population; 6 Benthos; 11 Aesthetics

NOT IMPAIRED = 1 Fish Consumption; 4 Fish Tumors; 14a Fish Habitat

Not Applicable = 7 Restrictions on Dredging (N/A); 10a Beach Closing/Contact

Unknown = 8 Eutrophication

Note: These evaluations are based on very limited sampling for fish habitat and populations and benthic health. More sampling is underway.

To see these graphs and charts more clearly, you can click on the graphic to download a pdf file at higher resolution.

BUI 4 - Fish Tumors and Other Deformities in Big Creek

The metric for this impairment is a measure of Deformities, Eroded fins, Lesions and Tumors (DELTs.)
The delisting target for this BUI is an average DELT value of 3% or under (1.3% in wading sites.)

Analyzing the scores with attainment levels in mind, the average DELT value is close to .0002% for the subwatershed. This number was derived from the DELT sampling data from 2013-14.

This HUC is in attainment for BUI 4. It is to be noted, however, that this represents a very small sample of sites, with very few fish to test.

BUI 6 - Degradation of Benthos in Big Creek

The delisting target for this BUI is an ICI score of 30 as outlined in the OhioEPA Delisting Guidance.
The average score in Big Creek is 9% below delisting target levels for this BUI in the entire HUC12.

The main channel is in attainment, but the Ford Branch score of 12 brings the total subwatershed average below target levels. It should be noted that there are only 3 credible data sites currently available in this HUC12. A meaningful representation would require at least 7 sites. Further sampling is planned.

BUI 8 - Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae in Big Creek

This BUI's metrics are under revision, so that information is unavailable at this time. Clarification is expected shortly, at which time the status will be reportable.

BUI 11 - Degradation of Aesthetics in Big Creek

The Aesthetics BUI is primarily targeted at "observed ongoing occurrences of sludge deposits, oil sheens, scum and other objectionable materials; specifically materials that produce color, odor, or other nuisances."

The delisting guidance allows for removal of this BUI if CSOs are a "significant" cause of this impairment, and, in such cases, if short- and long-term measures are undertaken.

Big Creek is affected by the NEORSD’s CSO discharges of raw sewage. NEORSD has taken measures, and is taking further measures, to ensure the reduction of CSO discharges to streams in its sewershed.

Short term measures include Green Infrastructure and low-energy treatment options, providing improvements while the long term large-infrastructure plan is executed.

Therefore, removing this BUI could be expedited with an evaluation of the significance of CSO discharges to the impairment, and use of the control plan criteria.

BUI 14a - Loss of Fish Habitat in Big Creek

The delisting targets for this BUI is a QHEI scores of 60 for wading/headwaters as outlined in the OhioEPA Delisting Guidance.

The average of scores is 9% above delisting target levels for this BUI in the entire HUC12. Fish habitat scores are in attainment for delisting BUI 14a.

Even with these apparently higher QHEI scores, the locations of the few sampling sites leading to this measurement may lead to an overly-optimistic analysis. Further, more comprehensive sampling and habitat restoration in more urbanized areas will give us more confidence for long term success of fish habitat in Big Creek.

This product or publication was financed in part or totally through a grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, with funds from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The contents and views, including any opinions, findings, or conclusions or recommendations, contained in this product or publication are those of the authors and have not been subject to any U.S. EPA or Ohio EPA peer or administrative review and may not necessarily reflect the views of either Agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

 Cuyahoga River Restoration
formerly Cuyahoga River Community Planning

is the local 501c3 facilitating organization that raises funds, manages programs and projects, including this website, and coordinates, staffs, and assists the Advisory Committee.

1299 Superior Ave. E • Cleveland, OH 44114
216-241-2414 •