The Mahoning River Watershed
The Mahoning River Watershed includes the mainstem of the Mahoning River, all its streamsand tributaries, and the region that the river and streams occupy. Streams start as a trickle of water and go downhill, gathering more water as they go, then join with other streams to form a larger river. The major tributaries feeding into the Mahoning River are Eagle Creek, Mosquito Creek, West Branch, Meander Creek, Mill Creek and Yellow Creek. Smaller streams feed into those main tributaries.
The river is more than just the water. The river is also the river bottom, or riverbed, and the streamside forest. The streamside forest is a lifesaver because: it provides cover for millions of creatures living in and along the river and streams; keeps the water cool in the hot summer; protects the river and streams from pollution; keeps the banks from eroding and letting mud and silt into the water; and provides decaying leaves, which nourish river creatures.
WildlifeThere are millions of creatures that live in and along the river: one-cell life form, fish, reptiles, frogs, turtles, crayfish, insects, hundreds of bird and animal species, and vegetation.
Eight Counties in the Mahoning River Watershed
The Mahoning River Watershed occupies parts of eight counties: Columbiana (the headwaters, or starting place, of the Mahoning River), Stark, Portage, Geauga, AshtabuIa, Trumbull, Mahoning in Ohio and Lawrence in Pennsylvania (see map).
Reservoirs & Lakes
Some of the tributaries have been dammed and hold back water into reservoirs. The five large reservoirs are: Lake Milton, Meander Reservoir, Berlin Reservoir, Mosquito Creek Reservoir, and West Branch (also known as Kirwin) Reservoir. Smaller reservoirs include Evans Lake, Lake Hamilton, Pine Lake, McKelvey Lake, and Burgess Lake. Even smaller reservoirs include Lake Newport, Lake Cohasset, and Lake Glacier--all three in Mill Creek Park.
Three of the reservoirs have state parks: Lake Milton, West Branch Reservoir, and Mosquito Creek Reservoir.
Recreation in the Mahoning River Watershed
The three state parks (Lake Milton, West Branch, and Mosquito Creek Reservoir), as well as Pine Lake, Evans Lake, Lake Hamilton, and Lake Glacier have recreation that varies depending on the facility and can include fishing, boating, swimming, canoeing, skiing, and hiking.
There are two canoe liveries on the Mahoning River: Canoe City in Leavittsburg and Covered Bridge Canoe Livery in Newton Falls.
Heavy Duty & Pollution from Warren to Lowellville
Steel mills in the Mahoning Valley were located along the river from Warren to Lowellville, and used water from the river to cool the hot steel and machinery. The mills then poured the hot water back into the river, along with thousands of pounds of toxins per day, thus heavily polluting that section of the river. Toxins lie in the sediment of the river and in the soil on some of the river banks from Warren to Lowellville, therefore, there is currently a contact ban on this part of the river, meaning no swimming, wading or fishing.
Cleanup of the River from Warren to Lowellville
There is a river clean-up plan being studied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. EPA, YSU professionals, and the Mahoning River Consortium (a volunteer river advocacy group) that focuses on a few different approaches: removing the toxic sediment and soil on the banks, and replacing it with clean materials such as pebbles, gravel, sand, and rock; and bioremediation, a technique using exist river microbes to neutralize toxins. Both have their advantage and disadvantages, as well as costs. This at the heart of the current debate about how to best revitalize the polluted section of the river.
Ongoing Pollution in the Mahoning River Watershed
Ongoing sources of pollution in the watershed fall into two categories: Point Source of Pollution and Non-point Source of Pollution. Point Source of Pollution means you can find the pipe or point were the pollution if entering the river or stream. Examples include toxins coming from industry and sewage coming from a treatment plant. Non-Point Source of Pollution means you canít trace the source of the pollution once it gets into the stream or river. Examples include runoff from lawn pesticides, erosion from clearcutting and building development in the riparian zone, toxins being poured into storm sewers, and runoff from farm pesticides and herbicides.
What You Can Do To Stop Pollution
Weíre All interconnected.
The Mahoning River joins the Shenango River in Pennsylvania to form the Beaver River, which flows into the Ohio River. The Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico and mixes with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Visitors since February 2003