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Great Lakes AOCs

About Cuyahoga River AOC

map showing the state approved boundary of the Cuyahoga River AOCBoundary map of Cuyahoga River AOC

Cuyahoga River is one of 43 contaminated sites designated as an Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Cuyahoga River has been transformed from an environmentally degraded natural resource into a living, revitalized asset to the Great Lakes region. Since 2010, more than $13 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been used to fund more than 40 projects to remediate and restore this AOC.

AOC Boundaries

The Cuyahoga River AOC is in northeastern Ohio, between Akron and Cleveland. The AOC is extensive. It includes:

  • the lower 46.5 miles of the Cuyahoga River, starting at the head of the Gorge Dam pool in Akron/Cuyahoga Falls
  • tributaries to the river (they drain 813 square miles of land in portions of six Ohio counties)
  • the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area (22 miles of river between Akron and Cleveland)
  • ten miles of the Lake Erie shoreline, from the western border of Cleveland to Euclid Creek on the east, and tributaries to that portion of the shoreline

The boundary of the AOC was expanded in 2010 to include the Gorge Dam pool.

Sources of Pollution

The area was considered highly degraded because of:
  • poor water quality due to
    • eutrophication
    • toxic substances
    • bacterial contamination
  • loss of biodiversity due to
    • water contamination
    • habitat degradation
    • sedimentation
  • land use changes that have altered the river and its tributaries
Sources for these impairments include:
  • municipal and industrial discharges
  • bank erosion
  • commercial and residential development
  • atmospheric deposition of contaminants
  • hazardous waste disposal sites
  • urban stormwater runoff
  • and combined sewer overflows
  • wastewater treatment plant bypasses

Beneficial Use Impairments

Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

  • Restrictions on Fish Consumption - REMOVED January 2019
  • Degradation of Fish Populations
  • Fish Tumors or Other Deformities
  • Degradation of Benthos
  • Restrictions on Navigational Dredging
  • Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae
  • Beach Closings (Recreational Contact)
  • Degradation of Aesthetics - REMOVED November 2017
  • Loss of Fish Habitat


Restoring Cuyahoga River AOC (timeline) 


The following links exit the site Exit

Cuyahoga County Department of Public Works

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Ohio EPA Cuyahoga River Watershed

Pond Brook Watershed Initiative