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"Reducing the Impact of Chlorides" Project Feature

Chlorides Reduction

Every winter, rain and snow wash road salt into our ditches, streams, and rivers, which degrades water habitats by adding excess chlorides. Too much salt can be toxic for invertebrates and fish. Experts agree that cutting down pollution at its sources will have a positive impact. This year, a team of three MAAC collaborators will begin a multi-phase project to do exactly that, targeting BUI 6 (Degradation of Benthos) and BUI 3a (Degradation of Fish Populations.)

Did you know – a 2005 study showed that in urban streams, our water can be up to 25% saltier than sea water, just due to road salt use? Dr. William Hintz, assistant professor in the University of Toledo’s environmental science department, was recently lead author of another study found that high concentrations of chlorides led to smaller populations of freshwater invertebrates, plus a reduction to their reproduction rate. Dr. Hintz was also recently quoted in a New York Times article covering the environmental harms of road salt.

In 2021, the Ohio EPA awarded a GLRI grant to the University of Toledo (UT), Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG), and Partners for Clean Streams (PCS), to work together to better understand current conditions of urban streams in the AOC and make recommendations on how to reduce road salt pollution. The project is titled “Reducing the impacts of chloride on aquatic species in the Maumee Area of Concern,” and the first of its three phases starts this winter.

Phase one focuses on developing a suite of best management practices to target specific areas in the AOC that show excess chlorides and severely degraded benthos. In broad terms, UT will focus on the chloride sampling and impacts to the streams, TMACOG will identify specific equipment upgrades to reduce salt pollution, and PCS will help coordinate project implementation plans with other organizations and government agencies.

Over the next few years, this chloride reduction project will play a key role in supporting the removal of BUIs 6 and 3a. Stay tuned for updates from these MAAC partners!

DMDS Improvements: 5.0 is here!

DMDS 5.0The DMDS 5.0 is now available! This interactive map has been upgraded so you can easily see the Management Action Projects around the Maumee AOC, plus the sampling data that informs these projects. Since 2015, the DMDS has served as an important tool to view data specific to BUIs, BUI status throughout the AOC, proposed and completed projects, and for related resources.

The DMDS allows users to view data in their browser using map modules, or to download data to make use of it yourself. Using the modules, users can review the status of each BUI for the whole AOC, and also see the status watershed-by-watershed, on a smaller scale.

Any registered user can contribute to the Projects or Resource Library Modules that serves as a repository for information related to the Maumee RAP and Maumee AOC. These resources include documents, reports, GIS data sets, maps, charts, and photos.

You can view the updated DMDS here.

25 years of BUI 11 Work

AOC CYS25 1For 25 years Clean Your Streams has been held in the Maumee Area of Concern (AOC) to work towards removing BUI 11, Degradation of Aesthetics. Clean Your Streams Day started in 1997 under the Remedial Action Plan Committee at TMACOG. 1997 was the first Annual Maumee Watershed Clean Your Streams Day with 2 kickoffs, with streamside locations near Swan Creek and Ottawa River. 60 volunteers removed 4,000 pounds that year. Since then, Clean Your Streams Day has grown significantly, undergone changes, and achieved milestone markers.

Three years later in 2000, there was a third Kickoff added to focus on the Middle Ottawa River with 100 volunteers. Clean Your Streams Day kept expanding and the fourth Kickoff was added for eastern tributaries of Maumee Bay. 2004 was a landmark for Clean Your Streams Day. In that year over 10,000 pounds of trash were removed from the AOC. 2005 brought the inclusion of Olander Park as a Kickoff Location, with 123 volunteers there for their first year. International Park was started as an Eagle Scout project by a high school rower tired of seeing all the trash floating in the river (and he is our website & newsletter guru still today!) and the University of Toledo was added in 2008 (the year it rained, the whole time…). By 2012 there were 425 volunteers at the University of Toledo alone. In that year, 22 more sites were cleaned than in 2011. 2015 Clean Your Streams Day hit the mile marker of more than 10,000 CYS volunteers since 1997!

Rainy days did not dampen the results of the 20th Anniversary of Clean Your Streams Day, and by this time a core group of planning team partners had become a well-oiled machine! In 2018, a record number of marine debris was removed – over 35,000 pounds. By now, volunteers had come across almost everything imaginable – film negatives, antique sewing machines, couches, safes, an ATM, water heater, prom dress, pipe organ, plastic pickle, blender, e-scooter, and much, much more. By 2020, even Covid could not deter Clean Your Streams Day. Partners for Clean Streams began a remote, clean-on-you-own option to encourage volunteers to choose their favorite or nearby spot to clean up during the week leading up to CYS Day. 431 volunteers safely removed 16,957 pounds of marine debris, covering areas we had not ventured before, such as the shore of Lake Erie in Sterling State Park!

The 25th Anniversary, like the 20th Anniversary, saw a rainy anniversary. Still, volunteers came out in the hundreds to help improve the aesthetics of the Maumee River, Swan Creek, Ottawa River, Grassy Creek, many other ditches and creeks, and ultimately, Lake Erie.

Starting in 2007, Clean Your Streams Day was organized under the stand-alone non-profit, Partners for Clean Streams; and is still organized by Partners for Clean Streams today to help the BUI and many other marine debris programs in the Great Lakes. It is grown beyond focusing on the AOC to go upstream or to other rivers as needed.  To date 368,611 pounds of aesthetically harming trash have been removed from Northwest Ohio, in and out of the Area of Concern. All because volunteers want to make a difference and our partners have been committed to continuing the tradition that a small group of people started back in 1997. While a few of us are still involved today, we look forward to the tradition continuing with future generations of stream cleaners as well!

Conceptual Designs for Maumee River Islands

The Maumee AOC Advisory Committee (MAAC) has been seeking feedback on design feature ideas intended to protect and enhance habitat at several island areas in the Maumee River. The group hosted an Open House outside at Walbridge Park and made presentations or had discussions with numerous other interested groups this fall.

These design ideas are part of a feasibility study underway to identify opportunities in the Maumee River where habitat for fish and benthos (small organisms that live on the river bottom) could be improved. Island habitat in the Maumee River is particularly important to fish and benthos. The island areas being considered for improvements are Audubon-Ewing Island Complex (owned by Metroparks Toledo), Marengo Island (owned by Metroparks Toledo), and the Delaware-Horseshoe Island Complex (owned by the City of Toledo).

Preliminary design and feasibility work is being performed under the direction of the MAAC and is being led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Other team members include the U.S. Geological Survey, Ohio EPA, ODNR, Partners for Clean Streams, The University of Toledo, and Hull & Associates, LLC. Project partners are the City of Toledo and Metroparks Toledo. This study is funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

For more information on these conceptual ideas, please call or email Jenny Carter-Cornell, APR, (567) 200-4355 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Project Highlight: Fox Property Restoration Unit

FoxUnit Friends

Primary BUI Addressed: BUI 14b: Loss of Wildlife Habitat

Project Location:

Fox Unit Property project adds to the network of complex ecosystems that provides critical wildlife habitat near Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to enhance the coastal wetland corridor.  This 40-acre project is located directly across State Route 2 from the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. The property includes an 8-acre woodlot, which was maintained and enhanced and is the first project for the Friends of the ONWR group.

Project Benefits: 

This project increases critical wildlife habitat around the shores of Lake Erie.

  • Reestablish wetland and upland prairie
  • Provide habitat for wildlife

Project Objectives: 

  • Plant 3.7 acres of native short grass sedge meadow
  • Restore 15 acres of native short grass sedge meadow interspersed with scattered trees
  • Maintaining and enhancing 11 acres of forest

In 2020, the Fox Unit property was seeded with moist meadow and woodland sedge. This April the Fox Unit Property received a prescribed burn to facilitate the restoration process. An aerial video of the burn can be found here The project is scheduled to be completed by December 2021.

The Maumee AOC Committee works toward fishable and swimmable waters in the Maumee Area of Concern and delisting the beneficial use impairments. The Committee is working towards all major restoration projects being completed by 2025, through collaboration of partners and volunteer opportunities by its facilitating organization, Partners for Clean Streams. The committee is made up of representatives from various organizations, citizens, businesses and non-government agencies to build long term solutions to the area’s water quality issues.