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EPA administrator visits Cleveland announcing delisting of Ashtabula River AOC

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Posted at 11:12 AM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 11:12:42-04

CLEVELAND — The Ashtabula River is one step closer to become healthy again.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials came to Cleveland Wednesday announcing they will start the process to delist the Ashtabula River as an Area of Concern (AOC) “as final beneficial use impairment is removed.”

“I’m proud – both as EPA Administrator and as an Ohioan – to announce that the Ashtabula River is the first AOC in the state to begin the delisting process,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are within sight of the finish line in terms of returning Ohio’s rivers to health again – so they can again become a place where people can swim, play, catch fish, and generally enjoy what this great state has to offer.”

EPA, along with state and federal partners, and industries have spent over $67.5 million to clean up contaminated sediment and restore habitat in the Ashtabula River AOC, according to a press release. The final beneficial use impairment, which restricted dredging activities, was removed last month, allowing Ohio to initiate the delisting of this AOC. It is anticipated that this AOC may be delisted by the end of FY2021, which would make it the sixth AOC delisted out the 31 original U.S. AOCs.

“Through a combination of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding and strong partnerships with our local, state and federal partners, more than $24 million has been spent on completing habitat restoration projects in the Black River AOC,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Kurt A. Thiede.

The delisting is all a part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The GLRI was launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Federal agencies have funded more than 5,400 projects totaling over $2.7 billion to address the most important Great Lakes priorities such as addressing agricultural nutrients and stormwater runoff, cleaning up highly-contaminated "Areas of Concern," combating invasive species and restoring habitat.