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As Governor DeWine announces new “H2Ohio Rivers Initiative,” Thousands Call on Ohio EPA to Provide Lasting Protection for Big and Little Darby Creeks

COLUMBUS, OH — Though no body of water in Ohio is currently protected to the fullest extent under the nation’s Clean Water Act, thousands of advocates in Ohio, the Midwest and across the country called on the Ohio EPA to boost protections for the Big and Little Darby Creeks as the agency considers its Triennial Water Quality Standards Review. 

Advocates joined efforts with the Ohio Environmental Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Darby Creek Association, American Rivers, Forest Keeper, Ohio Scenic Rivers Association, Sierra Club Ohio, and the Nature Conservancy, who collectively submitted a technical comment to the Ohio EPA to designate the Big and Little Darby Creeks as Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRW)—the strongest protection under the Clean Water Act.

On the heels of Governor DeWine’s State of the State address announcing investments in a new “H2Ohio Rivers Initiative,” over 3,000 people submitted public comments in support of the ONRW designation for the Creeks. The public comment period closed on January 31 at 5 p.m., and the agency is expected to make a decision over the next few months.

Even though both the Big and Little Darby Creeks are federally listed as National Scenic Rivers  in part for their nationally significant mussel populations, their health is still declining, and anticipated urban development threatens their futures. Without stronger protections, the Midwest will lose the Big and Little Darby Creeks’ outstanding ecological integrity. 

The following quote can be attributed, in whole or in part, to Chris Tavenor, Associate General Counsel for the Ohio Environmental Council:

“As Governor DeWine announces his new H2Ohio River Initiative, we hope protecting places like the Darby will be a priority of the new program. Big and Little Darby Creeks are a treasure to the people of Central Ohio and beyond, as illustrated by the thousands of people from across the Midwest who voiced their support for the creeks becoming Outstanding National Resource Waters. We hope the Ohio EPA listens to the people and the future they want for natural places like the Darby. As Columbus and its surrounding communities expand over the coming decades, it must develop sustainably. Protecting key resources for future generations, like the Darby, is a major part of the solution.”

The following quote can be attributed, in whole or in part, to John Tetzloff, President of the Darby Creek Association:

“The Darby creeks are a fragile remnant of Ohio’s rich natural history.  For too long Darby’s rarest species have been declining as more and more pollution has been added to the creeks.  Designating the streams as Outstanding Natural Resource Waters is a much needed step if we are to start reversing this trend.”

The following quote can be attributed, in whole or in part, to Will Harlan, scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity:

“Big and Little Darby Creeks are the lifeblood of central Ohio and national treasures that deserve the highest level of protection. They are two of the most biologically diverse rivers in the country, but increased pollution has caused steep declines in their rare and endangered species. Outstanding National Resources Waters designation is urgently needed for this world-class watershed in Columbus’ backyard.” 

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The Environmental Organizations’ Technical Comment is available online, on the OEC website: click here.

To learn more about the campaign to protect the Big and Little Darby Creeks, and how the Outstanding National Resource Water designation would protect them, click here.

Contact:

Marisa Twigg, Ohio Environmental Council, mtwigg@theoec.org

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