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Conservationists: Ohio Water Report is Flawed



July 28, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club is pointing out what it says are flaws in the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's (OEPA) Final Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report. The federal Clean Water Act requires states to put out the list of "impaired waters" every two years.

Matt Trokan, water conservation coordinator for the Sierra Club, says the 2010 report does not reflect the true quality of Ohio's waterways, as some of the most troubled were left out.

"While about 70 percent of our watersheds in Ohio were actually tested for aquatic life and 60 percent were designated as supporting aquatic life, the OEPA said over 80 percent of our rivers were safe. It just doesn't seem to add up."

According to the OEPA, the Maumee and Little Miami Rivers were not included because they had not been tested for a number of years; Lake Erie and the Ohio River were not included because they are shared with other states.

Trokan believes the state agency's current methods of sampling water are too complex, and that they could be simplified with what he terms "citizen science."

"We would really like to see the Ohio EPA change the standards for water collecting criteria, so more people can participate and make it a little easier for people to get involved, because everybody cares about water. It's a fundamental part of our life. "

According to Trokan, the OEPA should also consider adding a nutrient standard to monitor such pollutants as phosphorus and nitrogen that can spur algae blooms, resulting in areas of low oxygen or "dead zones."

The OEPA report is available online at www.epa.state.oh.us. The Sierra Club's review of the report is at www.ohiosierraclub.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH