Ecological Services: Environmental Contaminants
Midwest Region



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Natural Resources Damage Assessment

Ottawa River: Lake Erie, Ohio and Michigan


Sign that warns that swimming and fishing are unsafe due to water pollution.

Decades of manufacturing activity and improper waste disposal practices have resulted in the release of hazardous substances to the Ottawa River and its watershed.  Hazardous substances have migrated from landfills along the banks of the Ottawa River and from industrial facilities in the watershed, contaminating water, fish, and wildlife in the Ottawa River and adjacent North Maumee Bay. 


Most of the landfills which were the sources of hazardous substances in the Ottawa River have been or are being remediated under CERCLA and other authorities.  However, significant contamination remains in the Ottawa River.  This has resulted in severely degraded fish and benthic invertebrate communities from approximately river mile 8.8 to the mouth of the Ottawa River, and potentially into northern Maumee Bay.  The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency have issued fish consumption advisories recommending that no one consume any fish caught north of Interstate 475.   


The United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, collectively the Trustees, are conducting a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) in the Ottawa River and Northern Maumee Bay (Lake Erie). The NRDA will assess injuries to natural resources that have occurred due to the release of hazardous substances and determine whether compensation is due the public. Compensation will be used to restore, rehabilitate, replace or acquire the equivalent of the injured natural resources and the services they provide.


Norhtern pike with eye and mouth deformities.

Deformities on this northern pike, caught in the Ottawa River, were caused by environmental contaminants.

Photo by USFWS


Available Reports

Preassessment Screen  (202KB PDF)

Assessment Plan (1.3MB PDF)

Fish and Turtle Consumption Advisory Report - August 31, 2009 (176KB PDF)



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Last updated: May 11, 2015