The United States Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the removal of “Degradation of Aesthetics” from the list of Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) in the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern (AOC). This action acknowledges that aesthetics have improved dramatically in the decades since the Cuyahoga and nearby Lake Erie tributaries were named one of the 27 federally-designated U.S. waterways that have experienced severe environmental degradation. The aesthetics BUI was one of 10 specific problems identified for the Cuyahoga and its watershed in accordance with the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) – a bi-national accord between the United States and Canada focused on cleaning up the most polluted tributaries draining into the Great Lakes.
In a letter to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler, Great Lakes National Program Director Tinka Hyde said, “Removal of this BUI will benefit not only the people who live and work in the Cuyahoga River AOC, but all the residents of Ohio and the Great Lakes basin as well,” and congratulated Ohio EPA staff and “the many federal, state, and local partners who have worked so hard and been instrumental in achieving this important environmental improvement.”
Surveys and observations over the past few years have shown that persistent “occurrences of sludge, oil, scum or other objectionable materials that produce color, odor or other nuisances,” which are the measure of aesthetic quality set forth in a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) completed for the Cuyahoga, are now either nonexistent in the Area of Concern or are being remediated by long term control plans to reduce combined sewer overflows. Litter and woody debris are not considered persistent impairments in this category.
Read the complete story on our blog, including the next BUI to be delisted and how to track BUIs' progress.
|Scott Hardy is an Extension Educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.|