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Great Lakes AOCs

Ashtabula River AOC

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Mary Beth Giancarlo

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The Ashtabula River AOC lies in extreme northeast Ohio. The Ashtabula River flows into Lake Erie's central basin at the city of Ashtabula. The city of Ashtabula is the only significant urban center in the watershed. The rest of the drainage basin is located in predominantly rural and agricultural areas. Major tributaries include Fields Brook and Strong Brook.

The Ashtabula River was designated as a Great Lakes Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  Of the six environmental impairments that were originally present, three remain. All management actions at the AOC have been completed. EPA will support monitoring and evaluation to determine when environmental conditions have been restored so that the AOC can be delisted.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

An interim success of remediation and restoration work is removing Benificial Use Impairments (BUIs).BUIs are designations created by the International Joint Commission, representing different types of significant environmental degradation.  As cleanup work is completed, and monitoring demonstrates sufficient environmental health improvements, BUIs can gradually be removed. The list below shows which BUIs have been removed, and which remain.  Once all BUIs are removed, the process of delisting the AOC can begin.

  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption - REMOVED 2014
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations - REMOVED 2014
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat - REMOVED 2014
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Restriction on dredging activities
  • Fish tumors or other deformities
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Remediation and Restoration Work

EPA has continually worked with federal, state and local partners to execute remediation and restoration work in the area with the ultimate goal of removing the AOC designation and revitalizing the surrounding communities.


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