1994 Olentangy Article

-As part of the five-year basin approach for the issuance of National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, ambient biological, water column chemical, sediment, and bioassay sampling was conducted in the upper Olentangy River mainstem and at sites in three selected tributaries from June to October 1994. This study area included a 46.8 mile reach of theOlentangy River from State Route (SR) 97, above Galion, downstream to Donithen Rd., north of Waldo, and sites on Mud Run, Flat Run, and Grave Creek. Additionally, two sets of water column chemical samples were collected in North Shumaker and Zimmerman Ditches during the study period and this data is also reported.

-Conventional nutrient data from the Shearer Rd. site reflected continuing assimilation of total phosphorus and nitrate-N from the Galion WWTP through this reach. One violation of the WWH standard for minimum dissolved oxygen (D.O.) concentration, an exceedence of the chronic aquatic criteria (CAC) for total cadmium (T-Cd), and an exceedence of the Primary Contact Recreation (PCR) criterion for fecal coliforms were all recorded at this site.

-Zimmerman Ditch drains the unsewered Westmore Subdivision of Galion. All 1994 water column chemistry samples collected in Zimmerman Ditch violated the minimum D.O. standard, exceeded the water quality acute aquatic criteria (AAC) for ammonia-N (CAC in one sample), and contained elevated fecal coliform levels. The fair biological performance at Shearer Rd. appeared most closely associated with the degradation found in Zimmerman Ditch. Biological communities actually performed better at this site in 1979 than in 1994.

-The reach from Charles St.(RM 88.9) to SR 598 (RM 87.1) was affected by residential and industrial development in Galion. It was heavily modified and channelized in some locations. This reach received effluents from approximately 20 homes that were not connected to the Galion WWTP.

-Additionally, residual toxic sediments from now defunct plating and railroad industries may have exerted chronic effects through this stretch.

-A second area of PARTIAL attainment was documented near Caledonia (SR 309, RM 59.9 ).

Although the fish community exhibited exceptional performance upstream of the state route bridge close to the village, the macroinvertebrate community downstream of the bridge reflected fair performance.


-Excluding these reaches of subpar performance, the upper Olentangy River displayed significant improvements since the 1979 and 1986 surveys.

-The reach above Galion (RMs 91.1 to 89.2) fully attained, albeit marginally, the applicable WWH

biocriteria. However, ambient water column chemistry data revealed low D.O. and high ammonia-N levels which likely affected overall biological community performance.


-The Galion WWTP discharges directly to the Olentangy River at RM 86.00 with a design flow capacity of 2.7 MGD (million gallons per day). Nutrient loading from the WWTP was evident in downstream water column chemical samples. However, oxygen demanding wastes appeared to be rapidly assimilated and adequate dissolved oxygen levels were generally maintained.

-PARTIAL attainment of WWH ecoregional expectations was determined for Mud Run. A poor Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) score and the functional nature of the fish community was evidence of severe habitat impairment and accompanying nutrient enrichment at this site. The marginally good macroinvertebrate assemblage was also indicative of the serious habitat limitations.

-The biological performance in Flat Run was in FULL attainment of the ecoregional WWH biocriteria. Both fish and macroinvertebrate communities exhibited exceptional quality.

-The biological communities in Grave Creek were considered to be in PARTIAL attainment of the WWH aquatic life use designation. Nutrient enrichment primarily from the Richland Rd. WWTP appeared to limit biological performance as instream habitat was considered adequate to support biological assemblages consistent with ecoregional expectations for the WWH use designation.

-The Richland Rd. WWTP (Marion Co. Commissioners Sewer District #7 WWTP) discharges to Grave Creek at RM 3.16 which enters the Olentangy River at RM 45.35. Built in 1973 with a design flow capacity of 0.6 MGD, the plant has sludge treatment with contact stabilization and chlorination capabilities and is currently being upgraded.

-Ohio EPA is under obligation by a 1981 public notice to review and evaluate all aquatic life use designations outside of the WWH use prior to basing any permitting actions on the existing, unverified use designations.

-The current Warmwater Habitat aquatic life use designations for the upper Olentangy, Flat Run, and Grave Creek should be maintained.

-Mud Run is maintained as an agricultural drainage way through a joint Crawford-Marion County petition ditch project.

-Zimmerman Ditch is the principal waterway that drains the Westmore subdivision and surrounding agricultural area. It is presently not designated for aquatic life use.

-North Shumaker is maintained primarily as a surface water drain for roads and residential housing in Galion.

-Currently, the upper Olentangy River, Mud Run, Flat Run, and Grave Creek are designated for Primary Contact Recreational (PCR), and Agricultural and Industrial Water Supply uses.

-A complete reevaluation of the upper Olentangy River study area should be conducted in 1999 or 2004 as provided in the Five-Year Basin Approach to Monitoring and NPDES Permit Reissuance.

-The property that was formerly the site of Galion Plating Corp. should be added to the Ohio EPA,

Division of Emergency and Remedial Response (DERR) Master Sites List (MSL) in order to facilitate the cleanup of hazardous waste located there. Similar consideration should be given to the property of the former Southside Plating Corp.


-The upper Olentangy River study area included a 211 square mile watershed. Sampling occurred at a headwater site (RM 91.1) near Blooming Grove downstream to (RM 44.3) near Waldo (Figure 1). This 47.8 mile reach encompassed nearly one half of the entire Olentangy River basin (Ohio DNR 1985). Portions of southeastern Crawford, northwestern Morrow, and eastern Marion Counties are drained by the study area. Average gradient for the study reach was 5.7 ft./mi. compared to 5.5 ft./mi. for the entire basin (Ohio DNR 1960). Several tributaries were also evaluated including: North Shumaker, Zimmerman, and Shumaker Ditches, Rocky Fork, Mud, Bee, Thorn, and Flat Runs, and Grave Creek.

-Physical habitat was evaluated using the Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index (QHEI) developed by the Ohio EPA for streams and rivers in Ohio (Rankin 1989, 1995). Various attributes of the habitat are scored based on the overall importance of each to the maintenance of viable, diverse, and functional aquatic faunas. The type(s) and quality of substrates, amount and quality of instream cover, channel morphology, extent and quality of riparian vegetation, pool, run, and riffle development and quality, and gradient are some of the metrics used to determine the QHEI score which generally ranges from 20 to 100. The QHEI is used to evaluate the characteristics of a stream segment, as opposed to the characteristics of a single sampling site.

-Macroinvertebrates were sampled quantitatively using multiple-plate, artificial substrate samplers (modified Hester/Dendy) in conjunction with a qualitative assessment of the available natural substrates. During the present study, macroinvertebrates collected from the natural substrates were also evaluated using an assessment tool currently in the developmental phase.

-Fish were sampled twice at each site using pulsed DC electrofishing wading methods.

-An Area of Degradation Value (ADV; Rankin and Yoder 1991; Yoder and Rankin 1995) was calculated for the study area based on the longitudinal performance of the biological community indices.

-A summary of NPDES permit final effluent discharge limit violations was completed from January to December 1994 (Table 5). Data evaluated are results of self monitoring analyses presented in monthly operating reports submitted to Ohio EPA. Several parameters have daily maximum (7 day) concentration and loading limits and monthly average (30 day) concentration and loading limits and are monitored three times weekly, including: TSS, NH3-N, and cBOD5. A minimum limit exists for D.O., a maximum limit for total residual chlorine (TRC) and oil and grease, and both minimum and maximum limits for pH. D.O., pH, and TRC are monitored daily, while oil and grease is monitored once weekly. Limits for metals and free cyanide include daily maximum concentration and loading. These parameters are monitored once monthly.

-The most common permit violation was for TSS. This typically occurred during high flow events when retention time in the tertiary lagoons was insufficient. The maximum pH violations in September resulted from the discharge of lime sludge from the water treatment plant. Sources of metals violations are being investigated by the City of Galion, but were likely due to slugs from pretreatment facilities.


1994 Upper Olentangy River TSD

January 31, 1996

drying bed capacity.

On July 23, 1993, Director’s Final Findings and Orders were issued by Ohio EPA containing a

compliance schedule and interim permit limits for a plant upgrade. Improvements to the collection

and treatment facilities, including upgrading the WWTP to an Orbal oxidation ditch system and

expanding the plant design capacity to 1.75 MGD, were scheduled for completion in July 1995.

An evaluation of the Richland Rd. WWTP final effluent self-monitoring records, contained in the

Ohio EPA LEAPS database system, was conducted to determine trends in annual pollutant

loadings. Pollutants which were evaluated included; BOD




-N, NO


-N, and T-

phosphorus (Figure 4). Loadings of these pollutants exhibited steady or increasing trends. The

decline in BOD loadings portrayed in Figure 4 was primarily due to the change in monitoring

requirements from BOD


to cBOD


. The increasing trend in loadings of all pollutants was due to

the inadequate treatment provided by the outdated contact stabilization system and hydraulic

overloading. Pollutant loadings should decline when the plant upgrade is completed.

A summary of NPDES permit final effluent discharge limit violations was completed from January

to December 1994 (Table 5). Data evaluated were results of self-monitoring analyses presented in monthly operating reports submitted to Ohio EPA. Interim permit limits include daily maximum (7-

day) and monthly average (30-day) concentration limits for TSS, cBOD

5, and fecal coliform. A minimum limit exists for D.O., a maximum limit for total residual chlorine (TRC), and both minimum and maximum limits for pH. Fecal coliforms (May 1-Oct. 31) and TSS are monitored twice weekly, cBOD5 once weekly, and D.O., pH, and TRC daily. Frequent violations of these interim limits were documented due to the ongoing construction at the WWTP during 1994.


-Several villages and subdivisions in the Olentangy River study area have no centralized wastewater collection or treatment facilities. Residential and commercial establishments in these areas are served primarily by septic tanks, aeration systems, or sub-surface sand filters. These types of sanitary wastewater treatment systems typically have “off-lot” discharges, especially when shallow bedrock, poorly drained soils, or small lot sizes do not allow for the installation of leach fields. These off-lot discharges are normally received by a stormwater sewer system which discharges to a nearby stream.

-The Ohio EPA, Division of Hazardous Waste Management (DHWM) is responsible for the implementation of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The DHWM issues hazardous waste facility permits to entities that treat, store, and dispose (TSDFs) of hazardous waste. They conduct inspections at these facilities and initiate enforcement action against those that are in significant non-compliance. There were no permitted TSDFs in the upper Olentangy River study area. The DHWM is also responsible for inspecting all known (notifiers) and suspected (non-notifiers) facilities that generate hazardous waste and for investigating complaints of improperly managed hazardous waste sites to ensure compliance with regulations. Several facilities that generated or stored hazardous wastes are located in the Olentangy River study area. These facilities may currently have significant impacts on the chemical quality of sediments and surface water in the Olentangy River or have had historical impacts which have persisted to the current study.

-An evaluation of pollutant spills reported to the Ohio EPA, Division of Emergency and Remedial Response (DERR) Release Reporting System (RRS) was conducted to estimate the impact of these occurrences on the chemical quality of sediments and surface water and to biota in the Olentangy River study area.

-Water column chemical sampling stations were selected to provide information about ambient water quality and to assess impacts from point and non-point pollution sources.

-The most upstream sampling station (SR 97, RM 90.97) was intended to evaluate ambient water quality, nonpoint source pollution influences and impacts from unsewered areas. Four violations of the minimum D.O. criterion and one violation of the average D.O. criterion were documented here. The mean D.O. concentration (3.7 mg/l) was the lowest in the study area, while the mean concentrations of BOD5 (2.2 mg/l) and NH3-N (0.21 mg/l) were the highest in the study area. Continuous D.O. monitoring indicated a nutrient enrichment impact, with the lower and upper quartiles ranging from 4.60 mg/l to 8.88 mg/l (Note: this range contained 50% of the data points). The total suspended solids (TSS) mean concentration (24 mg/l) was the second highest in the study area, inferring excess soil erosion. Unsewered areas, including the Village of Blooming Grove and southeastern Polk Township and agricultural land use encroachment were considered to be the most likely factors influencing these values.

-Pollutants in sediment create the potential for environmental impact even where water column pollutant levels are below established criteria. Some pollutants have toxic impacts on aquatic life and may pose a threat to human health. Five sites were sampled in the upper Olentangy River to evaluate chemical sediment quality.

-Fish tissue was submitted for chemical analysis from three locations in the upper Olentangy River. Three white sucker whole body and two game fish skin on fillet composite samples were evaluated for selected metal, pesticide and PCB contamination (Table A-8). All detected concentrations were below US FDA Action Levels. A slightly elevated concentration of total PCB’s (62μg/kg) was present in a white sucker sample from Shearer Rd. (RM 79.66). Mercury was detected in rock bass fillets (0.172μg/g) from SR 95 (RM 54.8). Other concentrations were below detection limits or not elevated.

-The studied reach of the upper Olentangy River was a largely natural cobble, gravel dominated stream in a 157 square miles watershed with an average gradient of 5.5 ft./mi. The stream reach upstream from the Galion WWTP through most of Galion was channelized. Moderate and heavy amounts of silt created increased substrate embeddedness through much of the study area.

-Quantitative and qualitative data were collected at eight upper Olentangy River mainstem stations and a mixing zone between RM 90.7 (SR 97, upstream from Galion) and RM 59.8 (SR 309, downstream from Caledonia). Qualitative data only was collected at RM 54.8 (SR 95, downstream from Claridon) and at single sites on Mud Run, Flat Run, and Grave Creek (Table 13). Current velocities over the quantitative artificial substrate samplers when set on July 11-12, 1994, ranged from 0.40 ft.·sec-1 to 1.4 ft.·sec-1; upon retrieval on August 22-23, 1994, velocities ranged from 0.04 ft.·sec-1to 0.80 ft.·sec-1.

-Forty two species and two hybrid types of fish (26,816 individuals) were collected in the upper Olentangy River, July-October 1994. Sampling occurred twice at 11 sites and a mixing zone between RM 91.1 (SR 97, upstream from Galion) and RM 54.6 (SR 95, downstream from Claridon).

-Historical data was only available for the study area in the vicinity of the City of Galion.

Therefore, this evaluation is limited to that area. The significant change influencing the character of chemical water quality which occurred between 1979 to 1994 was the upgrade completed at the Galion WWTP in October 1984. The WWTP switched from a contact stabilization system to an advanced treatment system. The City of Galion also implemented an industrial pretreatment program in January 1985. Vast improvements in the sanitary sewer collection system occurred in approximately 1973, including the elimination of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and the extension of collection lines to service a larger portion of the municipal area. A tertiary lagoon was also constructed at that time and the final effluent discharge was relocated from RM 86.2 to its present location at RM 86.0.


-Prior monitoring of the upper Olentangy River macroinvertebrate community was conducted in 1979 and 1986. These qualitative surveys evaluated the reach through Galion extending downstream from the Galion WWTP. Eight sites were sampled between RMs 89.3 and 79.5 in 1979 and six sites between RMs 89.3 and 84.1 in 1986. The 1994 survey repeated the previous efforts but used both qualitative and quantitative data from 10 sites and a mixing zone sample (RMs 90.8-54.8). A comparison of data from these surveys indicated the macroinvertebrate community has improved significantly over this 15 year time span.

-Fish community data were collected from the upper Olentangy River mainstem in 1979 and 1986. Both previous surveys focused on the reach through Galion extending downstream of the Galion WWTP. The 1979 effort included seven sites between RM 89.3 and RM 81.7. The 1986 effort comprised four sites between RM 86.3 and RM 84.5. The 1994 survey, from RM 91.1 to RM 54.6, duplicated both previous studies with 11 sites and a mixing zone sample. Longitudinal comparison of recent and past fish community data indicated substantial improvement has occurred in the River over this 15 year period.

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