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Take Action for Big & Little Darby Creek

Ohio Environmental Council, October 31, 2023

Three deer in Big Darby Creek

The Big and Little Darby Creeks are some of the most important streams in not just Ohio, but in the entire Midwest and the nation. The Darby Watershed is an outstanding natural resource home to a nationally significant assemblage of rare and imperiled aquatic biodiversity. Both the Big and Little Darby Creeks are federally listed as National Scenic Rivers. But their health is declining. And anticipated urban development threatens their futures.

Sign-up to protect the Darby Creek!


May 2024:

The OEC and Darby Creek Association delivered joint comments on behalf of ten conservation organizations regarding the Ohio EPA’s proposed update to the State Water Quality Management Plan for the Big Darby Creek Watershed. This is one of the last meaningful opportunities for the Ohio EPA to protect and improve Big Darby Creek’s high biodiversity scores, water quality, rare species, and nationally-significant ecology. We recommended that all local jurisdictions should be required to complete comprehensive plans and establish development limits within the watershed. Read our comments here.

March 2024:

Unfortunately, despite enormous public, community, and scientific support, the Ohio EPA announced this month it will not designate the Big and Little Darby Creeks as Outstanding National Resource Waters. Though this outcome is disheartening, the OEC and our partners at Darby Creek Association and Center for Biological Diversity will fight even harder for the urgent protections that the Darby deserves and the health of all Ohioans who visit them.

January 2024:

We are continuing to urge the Ohio EPA to conduct an analysis of the impacts development—including a proposed sewage treatment plant in Madison County—will have on the Big Darby Watershed, including those by stormwater runoff. Click here to read the full news story!

October & November 2023:

The Ohio EPA announces a rulemaking process to consider classifying Big and Little Darby Creeks as Outstanding National Resource Waters.

Over 800 OEC members submitted public comment to the Ohio EPA telling them about the value that the Creeks hold for them! The OEC also partnered with other organizations and local officials to submit letters of support for the designation.

August 2023:

Following the Ohio EPA’s announcement on June 13, 2023 to extend the existing Big Darby Creek protections that exist in Franklin County to Madison County and Plain City, the Ohio Environmental Council and partners filed a comment calling for additional protections for those sections of the Big Darby Creek. The additional necessary protections focus on the potential impacts, especially stormwater, of the new development in these areas without proper planning.

To read the full outline of proposed modifications to the Big Darby Creek Protections, click here.

January 2023:

On January 31, 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. In total, over three thousand people submitted public comments in support of the ONRW designation for the Creeks.

To read the technical comments, click here.


To kick off the new year OEC and partners believed it was essential to get the Big and Little Darby Creeks designated as Outstanding National Resource Waters. This designation would prohibit any sources of discharge that may harm the “chemical and biological quality” of the water. In order to be classified as such a water body must have national ecological significance, national recreational significance, or a unique combination of biological characteristics of which the Big and Little Darby satisfy all three. OEC Members submitted hundreds of comments to tell Ohio EPA to formally categorize Big and Little Darby Creeks as Outstanding National Resource Waters.

November 2022:

The OEC, Center for Biological Diversity, and Darby Creek Association filed an appeal of a Wastewater expansion permit. To learn more about this permit click here.

We began collecting stories from the community about their experiences with the Big and Little Darby Creeks. Those stories help us to build an important narrative: that Big and Little Darby are vital to the Central Ohio community. There is still time to submit your story!