Beneficial Use Impairment 14a:
Loss of Fish Habitat

The numbers, health, and diversity of fish, whether spawning, migrating, just visiting or permanently residing in the river and streams, rely on the amount, type and location of habitat.

The graph above shows the status of the HUC12 subwatersheds relative to the delisting target for the particular stream type.

Yes, it's too small to read. So...either click here to download a pdf that'll be easier to see, or scroll down to see the line graphs for each individual subwatershed.

What the delisting guidance says -

This beneficial use will be considered restored when the following conditions are met:

For Fish (aquatic habitat):

In the riverine areas upstream from the lake affected waters (lacustuary or fresh water estuary), the average Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) value within an assessment unit do not diverge from state biological guidelines.


In lake affected waters (lacustuary or fresh water estuary), the average Lake Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (L-QHEI) value does not diverge from state biological guidelines (See Appendix B for additional detail information and lacustuary locations in each AOC).

1 For MWH waters, a QHEI score of > 50 is considered an acceptable target based on relationships observed

between fish community health and habitat. If MWH waters cannot attain the QHEI target due to degradation or physical modifications that cannot be reasonable and cost effectively rectified, then these waters should not preclude the BUI from being removed in the AOC.

2 For LRW waters, a QHEI evaluation is not applicable. LRW designations are waters that have been found to lack

the potential for any resemblance of any other aquatic life habitat as determined by the biological criteria through a use attainability analysis such that the extant fauna is substantially degraded and that the potential for recovery of the fauna to the level characteristic of any other aquatic life habitat is realistically precluded due to natural background conditions or irretrievable human-induced conditions.

3  For the Lake Erie shoreline and lacustuary areas, a L-QHEI > 55 is considered an acceptable target (Thoma, 2006 and personal communication with Roger Thoma, 2013).

Progress toward delisting


Of the subwatersheds that we currently have credible data for, 72%, or 13 of the 18, are above the target scores for this BUI.

With such a high percentage of positive data, we are able to focus our efforts on some of our more degraded stretches of streams.

The subwatersheds with the most degraded fish habitat are Pond Brook and the Little Cuyahoga River.

As in the case of the fish population impairment, we have identified areas where additional sampling is needed to fill data gaps. As is also the case in both BUIs, dam removals would have significant effects on raising scores.

Therefore, projected delisting timelines have to take these actions into account, and would push delisting back by as much as 5 years.


  • Assessment units for the fish habitat are the 12-digit HU, Large River Assessment Unit (LRAU) or other agreed upon stream segment or subwatershed. For the wildlife habitat, the AOC should be evaluated as a whole.
  • Local RAPs need to develop Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration Plans to recommend the type and location of restoration that needs to be done to remove this BUI.  The plan needs to be approved by Ohio EPA.
  • If waters have more than one designated use (i.e., Lacustuary and LRW or MWH) then the lowest target applies.

Status by 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC12)

In the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern, these geographic boundaries are sometimes different than the boundaries defined by topography.

The following graphs show the target scores (dotted lines) and the scores of the most recent sampling.

Click here to download the tables showing the data and sources on which the graphs are based.

Click here to download the graphs as a pdf file.

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.

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