The Cuyahoga's cleaner, but there's still work to do

May 7, 2018

The Cuyahoga River has come a long way from that infamous 1969 fire – and it’s getting better every day.

Along with three other rivers in Ohio, the Cuyahoga is on the U.S. EPA’s Area of Concern List, which includes places hurt by industry and development. The river has 10 problem areas or impairments – loss of fish habitat and fish population, among others.

Two of those impairments have been removed – one based on the river’s physical look, and the other based on public access.

Jennifer Grieser chairs the Cuyahoga River Area of Concern Advisory Committee.

“Now that we have those two impairments removed, we also have another document to remove the fish consumption impairment,” said Grieser. “That is on US EPA’s desk for their review and approval.”

There are eight more impairments left on the list. One is based on undesirable algae and another on fish tumors. 

Grieser says the group also gave the EPA a list "that identifies specific projects throughout the area of concern for restoration activities. That designates millions of dollars of non-competitive funding for investment into the river and its tributaries.”

One project that’s already funded is the demolition of the Brecksville Dam in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Some projects have yet to receive funding – including stream restorations on Tinker’s Creek and habitat restoration on the Little Cuyahoga River in Akron.

A riverside event Saturday highlighted the removal of the two impairments in December 2017. Grieser said the Area of Concern committee waited for warmer weather to officially celebrate moving closer to a clean Cuyahoga River.

“We really wanted to host this celebration as the kind of kick-off to the recreation season,” said Grieser. “Now that spring has finally arrived, we can celebrate our success and encourage people to go out and enjoy the river.”