Second 2010 Olentangy Article

-Waters impaired by hydromodification and habitat alteration are being restored by removing lowhead dams and restoring streams using natural channel design methods to improve physical habitat conditions as well as to improve the stream’s capacity to assimilate NPS pollutants. Such projects also substantially reduce sediment loadings to streams by stabilizing eroding streambanks and unstable stream channels.

-We also recognize that restoring impaired waters is only effective if we are also successful at protecting and maintaining Ohio’s high quality streams. We have expanded grant resources to local organizations for the acquisition of conservation easements on high quality land parcels along some of Ohio’s best streams.

-The third component of Ohio’s nonpoint source management strategy is to reduce nutrient and sediment loadings to streams from a variety of sources. We are effectively reducing agricultural NPS loadings by requiring projects that are highly targeted to small watersheds. Where problems have been specifically identified, we are making funds available from the SWIF and other sources to encourage the replacement of failing home septic systems. We have also greatly expanded financial support for improving urban stormwater management by encouraging the implementation of innovative stormwater demonstration projects in urban areas.

-The Olentangy is home to 54 species of fish, including the state threatened Bluebreast and Spotted Darters, a variety of mussel species, including the state threatened Purple Wartyback, as well as an impressive assemblage of breeding bird populations and other wildlife.

-In addition to its rich and diverse biological communities, the river also provides public drinking water supplies and recreational opportunities for many central Ohioans.

-Ohio EPA’s Division of Surface Water completed a Total Maximum Daily Load Study (TMDL) for the Olentangy River in 2006 in response to growing threats to the watershed from habitat alteration, hydromodification, silt & sediments and nutrients. The TMDL process included intensive surveys of the physical, chemical and biological characteristics ofthe watershed that were completed in 2005.

-Seven lowhead dam structures were located within and/or near the city of Delaware in the Olentangy River. All have been recommended for removal. Four have been removed already; the remaining structures are scheduled for demolition and removal this summer or fall. A list of these structures follows: Main Road Dam, Panhandle Road Dam, Central Avenue Dam, River Street Dam, Stratford Road Dam, US Route 23 Dam and Dennison Dam.

-Issues related to nutrients resulting from failing home sewage treatment systems were identified in both the endorsed watershed action plans as well as the approved TMDL for the Olentangy River. Owners of systems found to be failing were ordered to repair and/or replace the system.

-A third high magnitude cause of impairment identified in the Olentangy Watershed Action Plans and the approved TMDL are issues related to stormwater management. In response to recommendations within these documents, Ohio EPA implemented the revised Olentangy River Construction Stormwater permit identifying more stringent requirements for construction activities occurring within the Olentangy watershed. The permit also identifies more robust mitigation requirements for several related activities.

-Agricultural runoff from areas upstream from the city of Delaware has also been identified as a contributor to nonpoint source causes of impairment within the Olentangy River. The Scioto River Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is enrolling up to 70,000 acres of vulnerable riparian corridor and marginal farmlands into 15 year conservation set asides under this program administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). The Olentangy River is included in the Scioto River CREP area. Nearly 20% of the acres currently enrolled in the CREP are within the Olentangy watershed.

-Additional fish monitoring was completed in autumn 2008 as part of a media event. Ohio EPA biologists at that time observed improvements in the quality of the fish species that were collected compared to baseline monitoring results prior to removal of the dam.

-Macroinvertebrate communities showed significant improvement with the removal of the Central Avenue and River Street dams.

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