Press Release

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Statement: OEPA Asks Public to Weigh In on Possible New Protections for Ohio’s Most Biodiverse Streams

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Marisa Twigg, Ohio Environmental Council

Ohio EPA seeks public comment on ONRW status for Big and Little Darby Creeks

COLUMBUS, OH — In response to an outpouring of support by advocates earlier this year, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will consider recategorizing the Big and Little Darby Creeks as Outstanding National Resource Waters (ONRW), a classification that provides the strongest level of protection available under the Clean Water Act.

The agency is inviting Early Stakeholder Outreach (ESO) public comment on whether it should proceed with a rulemaking to designate Central Ohio’s Big and Little Darby Creeks as the state’s first Outstanding National Resource Waters. 

Public comments may be submitted to until 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 18.

“This is an important step towards securing top-tier protection for these world-class waterways,” Nathan Johnson, Land & Water Attorney for the Ohio Environmental Council said. “The Big and Little Darby are some of the most biologically diverse rivers in the world. That they flow through a major metro area like Columbus makes them all the more extraordinary and beloved. If we don’t do more to protect them, we will lose what makes them special.”

“Everyone who loves biodiversity or great creeking experiences should submit a comment to the agency,” added Johnson. “This is one of the most critical moments for us all to ask the Ohio EPA to protect Big and Little Darby Creeks as Ohio’s first Outstanding National Resource Waters.”

Earlier this year, the Ohio Environmental Council, the Darby Creek Association, the Center for Biological Diversity, American Rivers, Ohio Scenic Rivers Association, Forest Keeper, Sierra Club Ohio and the Nature Conservancy submitted formal comments to protect the Big and Little Darby Creeks as ONRWs. Thousands of supporters in Ohio and across the country joined the groups in calling for the designations. The Ohio EPA announced today’s public comment opportunity in response. 

To learn more about the effort to designate Big and Little Darby Creeks as Outstanding National Resource Waters, click here.