In August 2019 the Midwest Biodiversity Institute (MBI) proposed to perform tasks in support of a biological and water quality assessment of the Middle Scioto and Lower Olentangy Rivers in Franklin and Pickaway Counties Ohio beginning in 2020 and as supported by the City of Columbus Division of Sewers and Drains (DOSD). A Scope of Work (SOW) based on meeting a schedule of tasks within a project period of May 2020 through December 2021 was developed to include sampling, data management, analysis, and reporting. A comprehensive report including a retrospective analysis of more than 50 years of data was completed (MBI 2022). A follow-up survey of a similar scope to 2020 was completed in 2022-23 (MBI 2024). In March 2020, MBI was requested to expand the scope of work to include river and stream reaches in the Blueprint Columbus tributaries to the Olentangy River in the Clintonville and Beechwold neighborhoods and other tributaries within the Columbus municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) subwatersheds.

Periodic discussions took place within DOSD and included the MS4 program beginning in June 2020 and extending into 2023 about the merits and scope of implementing a watershed based approach to assessing the quality and status of streams within DOSD sewersheds, Blueprint Columbus areas, and the MS4 areas of Central Ohio. These discussions focused on the development of a watershed monitoring program and development of assessments that would directly support DOSD programs from a receiving stream perspective. The resulting Plan mirrors similarly scoped programs that have been underway since 2010 on behalf of the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSDGC) and since 2006 across Northeastern Illinois and on behalf of five watershed groups (MBI 2023). Each effort has served both municipal wastewater and MS4 stormwater management goals and objectives in addition to enhanced watershed planning that is of vital interest to local stakeholders. Both of these multiyear efforts were initially supported by the development of similarly scoped Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Plans (MBI 2006; MBI 2011). The Plan describes the spatial and temporal sampling design and the indicators and parameters that are to be collected at each sampling site. It also describes the type of biological sampling methods for fish and macroinvertebrate assemblages and habitat assessment that will be employed. Chemical and physical measures are included to provide supporting data and information for the biological assessment including the Ohio EPA combined nutrient assessments for the larger streams and rivers. The bacterial indicator Escherichia coli will be used to assess the applicable recreational uses. This Plan will be used to guide the development of detailed study plans for the annual field work and the subsequent data analysis for a multi-year series of baseline bioassessments beginning in 2024 primarily in support of the Wet Weather Management Plan (WWMP; Columbus DOSD 2015) and DOSD priorities for 2024-2032.


Chris Yoder