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OEC and partners appeal Plain City wastewater expansion permit to defend Big Darby Watershed

The Ohio Environmental Council and our partners Darby Creek Association and the Center for Biological Diversity are taking legal action to protect one of the most biologically rich streams in the entire Midwest: Big Darby Creek.

“The Darby’s aquatic biodiversity, including its threatened and endangered mussel species, must be acknowledged, accounted for, and protected. Our appeal aims to make sure that happens,” said Nathan Johnson, the OEC’s Director of Public Lands and an attorney in the case.

On November 2, 2022, the Ohio Environmental Council, Center for Biological Diversity, and Darby Creek Association appealed the permit for the Plain City Wastewater Treatment Plant’s proposed discharge increase into Big Darby Creek. Issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) on October 3, 2022, the agency approved the permit despite hundreds of citizen comments calling for a halt to new wastewater permitting in the Darby until sensitive species are protected and comprehensive conservation and sustainability planning is completed.

“We’re appealing this permit because Ohio EPA has the duty and authority to better protect the Big Darby Creek and the sensitive species that live there. As the Clean Water Act is celebrated for its 50th anniversary, now is the time to ensure strong safeguards are in place for one of the most biologically rich streams in the entire Midwest.”


The Big Darby is a unique resource, and a uniquely important place to the people of Central Ohio. Big Darby Creek is home to many species of fish, five of which are endangered in Ohio. During the permit’s comment process, the OEC, Darby Creek Association, and the Center for Biodiversity emphasized the threats to Big Darby’s mussel species, some of which are endangered and headed toward extinction. We asked the Ohio EPA to slow down the permitting process and first conduct comprehensive planning for the Big Darby watershed.

Intentional, coordinated, and comprehensive planning must occur to preserve the Big Darby as a world-class stream and endangered species habitat. That planning simply is not happening at present, and further harm to Big Darby will be irreversible.

As Central Ohio continues to grow in population, we must ensure resources like the Big Darby Creek Watershed remain pristine for future generations. The Big Darby is one of the most biologically important streams in Ohio and the entire Midwest. But the Big Darby’s rich biodiversity is in decline and is seriously threatened by increasing development pressures. We must put in place stronger pollution controls to protect this critically important stream.

In addition to our permit appeal, the OEC is committed to working with its partners, including Center for Biological Diversity and Darby Creek Association, to find durable protections for the Big Darby watershed. 

Media Contact:
Marisa Twigg
(614) 487-5837