The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recently that the Ashtabula River has been removed from the binational list of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded areas after decades of work.
In the 1980s, the United States and Canada identified 43 “Areas of Concern” on the Great Lakes affected by historical contamination dating back over many decades. The Ashtabula River is the sixth AOC to be delisted in the United States and first of four in Ohio.
Between 2006 and 2013, U.S. EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio EPA, the city of Ashtabula, and industrial partners led several projects to remove contaminated sediment from the bottom of the Ashtabula River and to restore habitat.
Thanks to dredging, the cleaner river bottom now helps make fish healthier and restored shoreline improves the habitat for fish and wildlife. Also, dredging has provided a deeper navigational channel allowing more recreational and commercial boats to access the river.
In total, more than 620,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment containing 14,000 pounds of PCBs were removed from the river and over 2,500 linear feet of fish habitat were created. A ground-breaking public-private partnership invested nearly $70 million in sediment remediation and habitat restoration projects.