The Cuyahoga River Remedial Action / Delisting Plan
The Cuyahoga River Area of Concern restoration plan and actions are geared toward removal or remediation of Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) that either restrict uses of the waterways and Lake Erie (like not being able to swim at beaches) or present obstacles to healthy fish populations (like dams or lack of habitat) or degrade water quality.
In concert with Ohio EPA, the AOC (formerly the RAP - Remedial Action Plan) has developed strategies to address each of the impairments, and is continually updating the list of projects and actions needed to implement these strategies.
In some cases, this involves large-scale actions such as diverting or removing dams, or reducing Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) with deep tunnel construction and stormwater green infrastructure. In others, strategically-located smaller-scale projects such as stream restorations, riparian buffers, or sediment capture and reuse can get us closer to our goals. In still other cases, public education and outreach may be the key to instigating the necessary broad-based actions that are needed, such as those to reduce nutrient runoff from fertilized soils.
The table below shows the impairments, the strategies and actions underway, and the status of restoration efforts. For more information on the progress toward addressing specific impairments, click on the impairment.
For more information on the Ohio AOC program and specific metrics for each BUI,
click here to download the complete updated AOC Delisting Guidance document.
Steps to Delisting =
a. removing a single beneficial use impairment from the list of BUIs when the target for that BUI is reached in all subwatersheds
throughout the entire AOC, or
b. removing a subwatershed from the Area of Concern when all targets for all BUIs are met within that subwatershed
Complete Delisting =
Removing the AOC from the list of Areas of Concern when ALL BUI targets are met in ALL subwatersheds throughout the entire AOC.
Beneficial Use Impairment
Objectives / Strategies / Actions
Objective: Reduce contaminant levels in fish tissue to meet state or Lake Erie consumption advisory levels by removing sources of contamination.
Strategy/Action: Dredge and remove or impound Old River Channel sediment to remove source of contamination causing liver tumors in brown bullhead catfish
Port of Cleveland and City of Cleveland are sharing the cost of a feasibility study to determine the best method to manage the dredging and sediment placement, to be funded with U. S. EPA Great Lakes Legacy Act dollars and local in-kind costshare.
Objective: Raise average scores of fish community surveys – Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) and Modified Index of Well Being (MIwb) – to state biological criteria targets.
Strategy/Action: Remove barriers to fish passage (dams); improve fish habitat and benthos in ship channel and tributaries.
Habitat projects are underway.
Passage - Four dams have been removed on the mainstem upriver of the Area of Concern (Kent, Munroe Falls, and two in Cuyahoga Falls) as well as one in Euclid Creek.
Dam diversion/removal planning is underway for the Brecksville (Station Road) dam. Ohio EPA and the US Corps of Engineers are negotiating acceptable forms of local cost share for a feasibility study for the Gorge Dam; funding is being sought for planning and removal or bypassing of obstructions in tributary watersheds.
Objective: Meet regional or Lake Erie incident rates of Deformities, Eroded Fins, Lesions and Tumors (DELTs)
Strategy/Action: Remediate Old River Channel sediment; Continue monitoring and assessment in ship channel.
Few fish with DELTs have been found in the most recent sampling of the ship channel.
Once the Old River Channel sediment is removed as a source of contaminants leading to brown bullhead tumors, this impairment should be removable.
Objective: Average scores of Invertebrate Community Index (ICI) are within state biological criteria guidelines.
Strategy/Action: Remove or modify dams; restore habitat in ship channel and tributaries; reduce sediment from tributaries.
Habitat projects and stream restorations are underway; Dam diversion/removal planning is underway for Brecksville and Gorge dams in mainstem; planning for sediment prevention underway in tributaries.
Objective: To have no restrictions on navigational dredging or disposal activities due to contaminants in sediment, such that sediments are suitable for upland reuse/disposal, OR sediments meet Ohio EPA guidelines for open water disposal.
Strategy/Action: Identify sources of contamination of existing sediment, or of new sediment being carried into channel, to reduce amount of sediment requiring special disposal.
Sediment is now suitable for various upland reuse locations, making it likely that this BUI can be delisted soon. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which handles the dredge and placement of sediment in the federal navigation channel, has determined that approximately 80% of the sediment dredged from main channel meets the federal standard for open lake placement. Ohio EPA, which has ultimate authority over permitting this disposal option, disagrees. The parties are working on options for upland or nearshore reuse of sediment. The Port is supporting options for capturing sediment before it reaches the channel.
Objective: For Riverine waters (upstream of lacustuary,) when conditions are not impaired as a result of excessive algal growth due to sources of nutrients, or no persistent nuisance growth of algae or blooms of blue-green algae have been observed within the last three years due to sources of nutrients from within the AOC.
For Lake affected waters (lacustuary,) when waters meet the minimum and the average dissolved oxygen criteria listed in Ohio Water Quality Standards (WQS) and no persistent nuisance growth of algae or blooms of blue-green algae have been observed within the last three years due to sources of nutrients from within the AOC.
Strategy/Action: Implementation/Completion of Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) and City of Akron Long Term Control Plans for Combined Sewer Overflow reduction; Green Infrastructure Best Management Practices to reduce surface runoff into storm sewers; Nutrient reduction from non-point sources through education, outreach, and municipal code enhancements; Vegetated riparian buffer restoration to interrupt/absorb nutrients in surface runoff.
NEORSD's Long Term Control Plan has been approved, large tunnel construction and green infrastructure detention measures are underway; Akron is implementing CSO reduction work; Ohio EPA is enabling and funding green infrastructure projects; AOC and partners are doing riparian buffer restoration and outreach aimed at reducing nutrient runoff.
Objective: For public bathing beaches (applies to Edgewater, Villa Angela, Euclid Beach, and Shoreby Club,) posted advisory days due to E. coli contamination do not exceed 10% or 19 days of the recreation season, and posted advisory days due to algal toxins do not exceed that same portion of the season; or when bacterial impacts from CSOs are being addressed under an approved long term control plan or other legal agreement. For Cuyahoga River from SR 87 to Lake Erie, segment is not on Ohio's list of impaired waters due to bacteria, or impacts from CSOs are being addressed under a long term control plan or legal agreement and a TMDL is approved and the State and RAP can document that the level of bacterial contamination is not worse than similar watersheds.
Strategy/Action: Implementation/Completion of Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) and City of Akron Long Term Control Plans for Combined Sewer Overflow reduction; Green Infrastructure Best Management Practices and vegetated buffer enhancements to reduce surface runoff of pet and animal waste into storm sewers and streams.
NEORSD Long Term Control Plan has been approved, large tunnel construction and green infrastructure retention measures are underway; Akron is implementing CSO reduction work; Ohio EPA is enabling and funding green infrastructure projects; AOC and partners are doing riparian buffer restoration to reduce runoff, and public education to reduce pet and animal waste.
Objective: Access to ship channel and mainstem for recreation and fishing is not impaired. (Note: This BUI is a locally-added impairment. Its attainment metric is being revisited by the RAP committee.)
Strategy/Action: Increase public park space and greenways in ship channel through completion of Towpath Trail and other sites, and increase fishing access sites in this and other areas.
Scranton Flats project has added a section of Towpath Trail and greenway with fishing access; Metroparks' Rivergate and Cleveland Rowing Foundation afford access for paddle sports; Lake Link Trail planning is almost complete. A new AOC working group is meeting to set targets and assess progress.
Objective: No observed ongoing occurrences of sludge, oil, scum or other objectionable materials that produce color, odor or other nuisances or, if cause is CSO or regulated MS4 discharges, when long term control plan or other legal document is in force. Woody debris, or excessive turbidity after storm events or due to agricultural activity, is not considered an impairment.
Strategy/Action: Identify and remediate sources of materials other than woody debris.
Progress: New assessment is needed, and this impairment is likely to be delisted in the near future.
Objective: In riverine areas upstream from the lake affected waters (lacustuary), the average Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) value within an assessment unit does not diverge from state biological guidelines, or in lake affected waters (lacustuary) the average Lake Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (L-QHEI) value does not diverge from state biological guidelines. The ship channel has a designation of Limited Resource Waters, for which targets are lnot applicable. However, it is considered necessary to provide habitat where possible to support migrating fish.
Strategy/Action: Dam removals; ship channel and tributary habitat restoration projects including future habitat as part of Franklin Hill (aka Irishtown Bend) stabilization project; ODNR fish habitat monitoring; green infrastructure along ship channel.
Habitat projects are underway. Scranton Flats provides significant new habitat in ship channel. Cuyahoga County Planning is installing new structures, and the AOC will be designing and installing habitat in the remainder of the ship channel over the coming two years.
Projects in the tributaries are also improving habitat. The AOC will soon be working with them and Ohio EPA on a habitat master plan.
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.
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