A Cleaner Cuyahoga River -- But There's Still Work To Do

Dragon boats in the Cuyahoga River in 2016 [Elizabeth Miller/ideastream]

The Cuyahoga River has come a long way from that infamous 1969 fire – and it’s getting better every day.

Along with three other rivers in Ohio, the Cuyahoga is on the U.S. EPA’s Area of Concern List, a list of places affected by industry and development. The river was assigned 10 impairments – including loss of fish habitat and fish population.

Two of those impairments have been removed – one based on the river’s physical look, and the other based on public access.

Jennifer Grieser chairs the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern Advisory Committee.

“Now that we have those two impairments removed, we also have another document to remove the fish consumption impairment,” said Grieser. “That is on US EPA’s desk for their review and approval.”

There are eight more impairments left on the list – one based on undesirable algae and another on fish tumors. 

Grieser says the group also delivered a project list to the EPA.

“It’s basically a project list that identifies specific projects throughout the area of concern for restoration activities,” said Grieser. “That designates millions of dollars of non-competitive funding for investment into the river and its tributaries.”

One project that’s already funded is the demolition of the Brecksville Dam in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Some projects have yet to receive funding – including stream restorations on Tinker’s creek and habitat restoration on the Little Cuyahoga River in Akron.

A river-side event tomorrow will highlight the removal of the two impairments in December 2017. Grieser said the Area of Concern committee wanted to wait for warmer weather to officially celebrate one step closer to a clean Cuyahoga River.

“We really wanted to host this celebration as the kind of kick-off to the recreation season,” said Grieser. “Now that spring has finally arrived, we can celebrate our success and encourage people to go out and enjoy the river.”

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