Water Quality

Submitted by More Better on Thu, 11/03/2005 - 18:41.
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Water quality improvement in

Water quality improvement in NEO strongly depends on construction/development practices, appropriate restoration practices and creating a realistic vision of what our water quality goals are.  In all three of these areas, I feel, that NEO is sorely lacking widespread leadership willing to integrate work being done within disparate watersheds.  Cuyahoga RAP, Chagrin River Watershed Partners etc. are making strides to improve water quality in their respective watersheds.  Unfortunately, anthropogenic activities detrimental to water quality work across watershed boundaries and are salient at the local, regional and state levels of political organization.  At the very least, citizens within their respective communities should advocate for enforcement of NPDES Phase II stormwater requirements.  In some sense this will not be enough, since there are numerous legal actions that contribute to the poor water quality in much of the middle and lower reaches of NEO's catchments. 

    Appropriate restoration techniques is another area where science and practice diverge.  Regional and state authorities (NEORSD, OEPA) consider building riparian buffers and restoring urban streams to be acceptable practices for improving water quality.  However, recent research clearly shows that these practices have limited value if widespread land use and activity within the catchment are 'urban' in nature.  Improving  water quality is more dependent on creating incentives within entire watersheds for low-impact development, on-site stormwater management, advanced waste-water treatment and conservation.  There is also a strong need in NEO to force local governments to come good on eliminating combined-sewer over/outflows (CSOs).  Akron and others proclaim to be working towards this goal, but as long as these remain in place, large storm events will pollute streams.

All of this directly links into a realistic vision and conception of water quality.  If by water quality we mean water to recreate in, then stormwater mitigation practices to reduce the risk of high fecal coliform loads may be enough.  If improved water quality is associated with pristine riverscapes, then we'll also be disappointed when this goal is not achievable.  In general, the road to water quality improvement is not the road back from what  caused the impairment in the first place.  It's is far more difficult  to return a former state.  Consequently, the return of native game fish, rare water fowl, and ecosystem balance will not take place with the current slate of activities.  Fundamentally, we need, as a community, to dialogue the meaning of improving water quality for NEO and from there decide how extreme actions will be required to reach our goals.


Meaning of improving water quality

Shimshon- you seems to have a good understanding of the water quality issues here in NEO, which can also apply to any urban region in the world.  I liked your thoughts "to dialog the meaning of water quality for NEO and from there decide how extreme actions will be required to reach our goals." 


I am not an expert in water quality, but have followed the major public agencies and watershed organizations that that strive to improve our water quality.  In fact, I am a member of the NEO Watershed Council (NEOWC) which is a group of 18 local watershed organizations working to improve water quality..  I find it completely overwhelming to follow all these groups, intiatives and ther outcomes- but I thank all those people and organizations that are working for higher water quality standards.  A lot of work still needs to be done and it takes grass roots advocates to keep an eye on all these initiatives and make sure we are getting results.


 I am aware of all the issues you raised and organizations you referenced and there are many more.  I represent the Friends of Whiskey Island on the NEOWC, and we would like to see the water quality in the Cleveland Habor improve to where people can swim, fish and play on the beach there.  That goal will be quite a challenge and take many years, but as a community we must continue to strive for the highest standards in water quality.


Please contact me so I can learn about more of your ideas and I can share some of mine.  Also, this invitation goes out to anyone that is interested in improving our water quality.

Sincerely, Ed Hauser

(cell) 216.870.9206 ; (email) ejhauser [at] ameritech [dot] net