Two group photos from Clean Your Streams Day, the top photo from the 1st CYS Day in 1997 and the bottom photo from the 26th CYS Day in 2022.The Ohio Lake Erie Commission, Ohio EPA and the Maumee AOC Advisory Committee recommended the removal of Beneficial Use Impairment 11 (BUI 11), Degradation of Aesthetics, in the Maumee Area of Concern.

If you’re familiar with the Maumee AOC, you already know what momentous news this is for our region. (If you aren’t familiar, here’s some background on the Maumee AOC and its relationship to our organization.) If you’ve participated in Clean Your Streams, you’re already a part of the story of BUI 11’s removal.

In order to address the beneficial use impairments affecting our AOC when the region was first designated, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) set up a Maumee Remedial Action (RAP) Committee. Later reorganized as the Maumee AOC Advisory Committee (MAAC), this group is made up of government officials, businesses, industries, universities, and other interested individuals with an interest in fishable, swimmable, and drinkable water. The first Clean Your Streams Day was held in 1997, organized by RAP Committee members to work on BUI 11, Degradation of Aesthetics.

Over the years, many regulatory programs in our region have reduced egregious odors, sheens, and other types of waterway aesthetics degradations. Contaminated sediment removal, as well as state and local efforts to abate chronic spills, have tackled aesthetics degradations at their sources. In addition, twenty-seven years of marine debris removal via Clean Your Streams, as well as recycling and trash management programs and initiatives by area organizations, have made a difference! Thanks to all these efforts, the aesthetics of the Maumee AOC waterways have improved since they were first recognized as impaired in 1987.

In May of this year, the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and Ohio EPA recommended the removal of BUI 11. Following a public comment period, the Maumee AOC Advisory Committee (MAAC) meeting, the Committee concurred with the recommendation, and it has now moved to US EPA and the International Joint Commission for approval

The Ohio Lake Erie Commission and Ohio EPA made this recommendation because the conditions in previously impaired Maumee AOC waterways now meet restoration criteria. This means that the Maumee AOC has addressed previously observed ongoing occurrences of sludge deposits, oil sheens, scum and other objectionable materials; specifically, materials that produce color, odor, or other nuisances.

BUI 11 is the third beneficial use impairment to be recommended for removal among the initial 10 BUIs identified as impaired in the Maumee AOC. It will be formally removed when the International Joint Commission accepts the recommendation. The first was BUI 1: Added Costs to Agriculture or Industry (removed in 2015) and the second was BUI 1: Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption (removed in 2022.) The formal removal of BUI 11 is anticipated later this year.