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Ashtabula River

Contact

Amy Mucha
(mucha.amy@epa.gov)
312-886-6785

Key Documents
Related Projects

A strategic dredging project will begin mid-August 2013. The project will vastly improve navigation in the Ashtabula River and Harbor Area of Concern. Dredging is expected to be complete in October, at which time the AOC may be designated an Area of Recovery.

In 2011, Ohio EPA began a large habitat restoration project using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds. This federal, state and local effort will develop 1,500 feet of fish shelf in the lower two miles of the river. The shelf will provide native fish species a shallow water habitat to forage and spawn. This project compliments an in-water and shoreline project to increase fish habitat completed in 2010 under the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

Ashtabula River AoC Boundary Map

Ashtabula River AOC Boundary Map (PDF) (1pg, 350K)

Ashtabula River shape file (ZIP) (13K)

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About the Ashtabula River

The Ashtabula River lies in extreme northeast Ohio, flowing into Lake Erie's central basin at the city of Ashtabula. Its drainage basin covers an area of 137 square miles, with 8.9 square miles contained in western Pennsylvania. Major tributaries include Fields Brook, Hubbard Run and Ashtabula Creek. The city of Ashtabula is the only significant urban center in the watershed. The rest of the drainage basin is located in predominantly rural and agricultural areas. There is concentrated industrial development around Fields Brook and east of the river mouth.

From the 1940s through the late '70s, unregulated discharges and mismanagement of hazardous waste caused serious contamination in the river's sediments and degraded its biological communities. Major pollutants include PCBs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), mercury and other heavy metals. Regular dredging is being prevented due to the contaminated sediments, seriously impeding both commercial and recreational navigation.

Since 1983, fish consumption advisories have been posted for the Area of Concern. The impairments primarily trace back to the unregulated release of toxic substances from various industrial facilities, including the Fields Brook Superfund site.  The 1991 remedial action plan identified six beneficial use impairments in the Ashtabula River AOC.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

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Efforts towards restoration

The Ashtabula River remedial action planning process began in 1988 with the establishment of the Ashtabula River RAP advisory council. That same year, the council agreed to focus upon an AOC defined as the lower two miles of the Ashtabula River, Ashtabula Harbor and the adjacent nearshore of Lake Erie. A variety of agencies and organizations contribute to the Ashtabula River RAP including federal, state and local agencies, local businesses and industries, and nonprofits.

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You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Documents

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Partners

The Ashtabula River Partnership was formed in 1994 to promote voluntary river cleanups. The partnership focuses primarily on project implementation. It has also produced educational brochures to allow the public to become better acquainted with the Ashtabula River and encourage participation in the river’s restoration.

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Photos

Aerial view of Ashtabula River Harbor and the Area of Concern

Aerial view of the Ashtabula River Harbor and the Area of Concern

This sign was erected to notify residents of fish consumption advisories for the Ashtabula River AoC

A sign notifies residents of fish consumption advisories for the Ashtabula River AOC.

View of Ashtabula Harbor from mudflats. Walnut Beach has extensive mudflats behind the harbor breakwall.  Mudflats provide habitat for Ohio listed rare plant species and shore birds

View of Ashtabula Harbor from mudflats. Walnut Beach has extensive mudflats behind the harbor breakwall. Mudflats provide habitat for Ohio listed rare plant species and shore birds.

This aerial photograph shows the section of the Ashtabula River that will be cleaned up as part of the Great Lakes Legacy Act project

Aerial photograph showing the section of the Ashtabula River that will be cleaned up as part of the Great Lakes Legacy Act project

The main channel of the Ashtabula River, looking south. The majority of the sediment removal will occur in this stretch of river and the turning basin that lies beyond the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge (see arrow)

The main channel of the Ashtabula River, looking south. Arrow shows where most of the sediment removal will occur in this stretch of river and the turning basin that lies beyond the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge.

The federally authorized channel of the Ashtabula River, downstream of the 5th Street Bridge, looking north toward Lake Erie. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are responsible for maintaining navigational depth in this reach of the river, into Ashtabula Harbor

The federally authorized channel of the Ashtabula River, downstream of 5th Street Bridge, looking north toward Lake Erie. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are responsible for maintaining navigational depth in this reach of the river, into Ashtabula Harbor.

View from 6th Street, looking west. The Norfolk Southern rail yard can be seen in the foreground, with the Ashtabula Yacht Club directly across the river

View from 6th Street, looking west. The Norfolk Southern rail yard can be seen in the foreground, with the Ashtabula Yacht Club directly across the river.

The 5th Street Bridge looking upstream (southeast) on the Ashtabula River.  The 5th Street Bridge serves as the boundary of the Ashtabula River Great Lakes Legacy Act Project

The 5th Street Bridge looking upstream (southeast) on the Ashtabula River. The 5th Street Bridge serves as the boundary of the Ashtabula River Great Lakes Legacy Act Project.

U.S. EPA-GLNPO's research vessel, the Mudpuppy, conducts sediment sampling in the Ashtabula River

EPA research vessel Mudpuppy samples sediment in the Ashtabula River.


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