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Areas of Concern Overview

Ohio has four Areas of Concern in portions of the Ashtabula, Black, Cuyahoga and Maumee river and adjacent areas. The Ashtabula River AOC was delisted in 2021. 

Ohio's Areas of Concern (AOCs) were initially identified in the early 1980s as the most degraded areas along Ohio's Lake Erie coast and was memorialized in 1987 in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Under Annex 1 of the Agreement, four areas in Ohio were designated "where significant impairment of beneficial uses has occurred as a result of human activities at the local level. Impairment of a beneficial use is a reduction in the chemical, physical or biological integrity of waters of the Great Lakes sufficient to cause any of 14 beneficial use impairments."  

The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) lays out 14 beneficial use impairments (BUIs) that must be remediated in order to restore an AOC. The BUIs include:

1. Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption.

2. Tainting of fish and wildlife flavor;

3. Degradation of fish and wildlife populations;

4. Fish tumors or other deformities;

5. Bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems;

6. Degradation of benthos;

7. Restrictions on dredging;

8. Eutrophication or undesirable algae;

9. Restrictions on drinking water or taste or odor problems;

10. Beach closings;

11. Degradation of aesthetics;

12. Added costs to agriculture and industry;

13. Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations; and

14. Loss of fish and wildlife habitat. 

Efforts to restore the AOCs require an ecosystem approach, sediment remediation and habitat restoration, as well as compliance with environmental regulations. Each AOC conducts an assessment of conditions, identifies management actions to meet BUI restoration targets established by the Ohio AOC program, and works with many partners to implement those actions. Upon completion of management actions, BUIs are evaluated to determine if the beneficial use is restored and the impairment can be removed. Upon the removal of all identified BUIs within an AOC, it can be considered for delisting and removal as an Area of Concern. 

Ohio's four AOCs are at varying stages of progress to meet these goals and the restoration process. The Ohio AOC program works in partnership with a wide network of federal, state and local partners including local Advisory Committees within each AOC. The implementation of Ohio's AOC program works in partnership with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding and through the leveraging of state and local partnership programs. 

Ohio AOC Management Actions

Federal and State agencies in partnership with local AOC Advisory Committees in each AOC has identified management actions that will assist in meeting the goals for restoration and the removal of existing beneficial use impairments. 

Ohio AOCBUI Progress

Beneficial Use Impairment Ashtabula Black Cuyahoga Maumee
BUI 1: Restrictions on Fish Consumption

Removed 2014

Removed 2016 Removed 2019 Removed 2022
Restrictions on Wildlife Consumption Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired Removed 2022
BUI 2: Tainting of Fish and Wildlife Flavor Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired
BUI 3:  Degradation of Fish Populations Removed 2014 Impaired Impaired Impaired
Degradation of Wildlife Populations Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired
BUI 4: Fish Tumors and Other Deformities Removed 2019 In Recovery Impaired Impaired
BUI 5:  Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired
BUI 6:  Degradation of Benthos Removed 2018 Impaired Impaired Impaired
BUI 7: Restrictions on Dredging Activities Removed 2020 Removed 2022 Impaired Impaired
BUI 8: Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae Not Impaired Removed 2016 Removed 2021 Impaired
BUI 9: Restrictions on Drinking Water Consumption or Taste & Odor Problems Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired
BUI 10: Beach Closings (Recreational Contact) Not Impaired Impaired Impaired Impaired
BUI 11: Degradation of Aesthetics Not Impaired Removed 2021 Removed 2017 Impaired
BUI 12: Added Costs to Agriculture or Industry Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired Removed 2015
BUI 13: Degradation of Phytoplankton and Zooplankton Populations N/A N/A N/A Not Impaired
BUI 14: Loss of Fish Habitat Removed 2014 Impaired Impaired Impaired
Loss of Wildlife Habitat Not Impaired Not Impaired Not Impaired Impaired


Ohio Area of Concern Program Documents

A Framework for Reorganizing and Implementing Ohio's Remediation Action Program 

Ohio Delisting Guidance and Restoration Targets Document   

More information is available on each Ohio AOC Program.