The Ohio Water Resources Center Newsletter

Issue 1 | Volume 5 | January 2023

From Our Directors 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued guidance to states to reduce harmful PFAS pollution in December. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of common, manufactured chemicals in various everyday products that are resistant to heat, oils, stains, grease, and water. PFAS molecules consist of a chain of linked carbon and fluorine atoms, and due to the strength of carbon-fluorine bonds, these manmade chemicals are extremely difficult to degrade. The substances are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they linger in peoples’ bodies and the environment instead of degrading over time.

Under current regulations, companies do not have to disclose the presence of PFAS if they make up only a small portion of overall discharge. The agency is proposing to remove this concentration threshold to improve the accuracy in reported PFAS releases and reduce PFAS discharges. The goal is to restrict PFAS at their source, which will reduce the levels of PFAS entering wastewater and stormwater systems and ultimately lower people’s exposure to PFAS. The memorandum, Addressing PFAS Discharges in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits and Through the Pretreatment Program and Monitoring Programs, outlines how states can monitor for PFAS discharges and take steps to reduce them where they are detected. This action is a critical step in the Agency’s holistic approach to addressing these harmful forever chemicals under EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap. A draft drinking water maximum contaminant level (MCL) is also expected in early 2023.


Cyanotoxin biodegradation: An in-plant solution to microcystins in water treatment residuals

Dr. Natalie Hull, Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering, completed an Ohio Water Resources Center funded project via an Ohio Water Development Authority subaward. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) pose a serious threat to water quality due to their growing presence and the potential health effects from exposure to cyanotoxins produced during a HAB event. While water treatment plants (WTP) can effectively remove cyanotoxins from water, similar methods have not been developed for residuals. This study aimed to pioneer methods that maximize extraction and reproducible quantification of microcystins in water treatment residuals.

Dr. Hull and her team analyzed microcystins (MCs) in settling and dissolved air flotation residuals. Using samples from a WTP in Celina, OH, they compared various cell lysis methods, extraction solvents, and quantification methods. Results found that sample preparation, particularly methanol concentration, had the most significant impact on measured MC concentrations. To determine the impact of residual properties and pretreatments on MC concentrations, Dr. Hull’s team performed bench scale bioreactor testing. Results indicate that without additional nutrients, degradation of MC occurs rapidly and that lower MC concentrations were measured when lagoons had higher residual ages. 

Dr. Hull’s research presents the first survey of Microcystis in residuals from WTPs across the country and demonstrates their presence. This study provides insight into how WTPs can properly assess cyanotoxin concentrations to better protect public health and work towards more sustainable residual management options, such as land application and residuals reuse.

USGS Science Highlight

PFAS in West Virginia's Groundwater and Surface Water

In 2019, the West Virginia legislature recognized the contamination risk to public source-water supplies posed by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and passed a resolution that required a statewide PFAS study. The resulting study was led by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists in cooperation with partners at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and aimed to understand the occurrence and distribution of PFAS contamination throughout the state’s rivers, lakes, and groundwater aquifers.

Raw-water samples were collected at 279 public-water systems across West Virginia. Higher PFAS concentrations were more commonly found in groundwater than surface-water sources, and high concentrations and PFAS detections were generally concentrated in the Ohio River Valley and West Virginia’s eastern panhandle. PFAS was rarely detected in groundwater sites in fractured-rock aquifers and abandoned underground coal-mine aquifers in the Appalachian Plateaus Physiographic Province had very little PFAS detected. These data represent a baseline summary of source water in West Virginia.

USGS has released an interactive map that shows locations across Virginia and West Virginia where PFAS have been sampled by the U.S. Geological Survey's Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center as part of ongoing monitoring efforts conducted in cooperation with local and regional partners.

News Updates

Failure in decades-old piping caused north Toledo water system failure, city says

Via WTOL11, Dec 15, 2022 

Governor DeWine awards $2.4M in lead line mapping grants

Via TheTimesLeader, Dec 19, 2022 

NASA sends water-mapping satellite into space

Via TheHill, Dec 14, 2022

Governor DeWine Announces $25 Million for Gorge Dam Removal Project

Via GovernorOhio, Dec 2, 2022 

NACWA report urges Congress to support low-income water affordability

Via WaterWorld, Dec 15, 2022

Montgomery County receives $9M for water improvements

Via WDTN, Dec 13, 2022  

What They Are Saying: The Water Resources Development Act of 2022

Via EPW Dec 12, 2022 

Retiring fossil fuel plants could free 687B gallons water annually

Via WaterWorld, Dec 12, 2022 

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Policy Update

Ohio EPA DSW: Draft Rules in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-1

The Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water (DSW) seeks comments on the Agency's draft rules in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-1. The drafted revisions include adding and removing acronym and term definitions, updating the list of analytical methods including the web addresses for available documents, updating names of water bodies, and making the rule language more concise. More information can be found here. Comments are due by 5 p.m., January 6, 2023 to

Ohio EPA DSW: Selected Southeastern Ohio River Tributaries (Shade, Kyger, and Little Hocking) Draft Loading Analysis Plan

The Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water (DSW) seeks comments on the agency’s Selected Southeastern Ohio River Tributaries Draft Loading Analysis Plan (LAP). The watersheds in Selected Southeastern Ohio River Tributaries (Shade, Kyger, and Little Hocking) were surveyed in 2015 and the results were used to develop a loading analysis plan (LAP) for the impaired sites in the watershed. More information can be found here. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. on January 9, 2023 to

Ohio EPA DSW: Lower Mahoning River Watershed Draft Loading Analysis Plan

The Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water (DSW) seeks comments on the agency’s lower Mahoning River Watershed Draft Loading Analysis Plan (LAP). The Lower Mahoning River watershed was surveyed in 2011 and 2013 and the results from this survey were used to develop a loading analysis plan (LAP) for the impaired sites in the watershed. More information can be found here. Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. on January 17, 2023 to

Ohio EPA DSW: Early Stakeholder Outreach - two Surface Water rules packages

The Section 401 package includes three existing rules as well as a new rule(s). The federal Clean Water Act requires any applicant for a federal permit or license that may result in a discharge to a navigable water to obtain a water quality certification from Ohio EPA pursuant to Section 401. The Wetland Water Quality Standards package includes four existing rules that outline wetland water quality standards that apply to all wetlands within the state. More information on each package can be found here. Comments are due by 5 p.m., January 18, 2023 to


Request for Applications: USGS Physical Scientist Position

USGS HQ Water Mission Area is coming out with a Physical Scientist Cluster hire for divisions within WATER this month, January 2023. Applications will be limited to 100 applicants or 10 days. The announcement will be available on USAJOBs. More information on the hiring process is available here.

Call for Abstracts: UCOWR/NIWR Annual Water Resources Conference

The UCOWR/NIWR Annual Water Resources Conference focuses on all water-related topics; including water resource management, water treatment, watershed restoration strategies, and more. Abstracts can be submitted here and the deadline to submit is January 30, 2023. 

Scholarship Program: Ohio Section AWWA

The OAWWA will award three Undergraduate scholarships and three Graduate/Continuing Education scholarships to students supporting the water industry. More information is available here. The deadline to apply is February 10, 2023.

Competition: US EPA 20th Annual P3 Awards

Applications proposing to take a holistic approach, grounded in research and innovation, to develop and demonstrate solutions to real world challenges are sought for the U.S. EPA the People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) Program. More information is available here. The deadline to submit is February 1, 2023.

Call for Abstracts: Fresh Ideas Competition

The OAWWA invites students and recent graduates involved in drinking-water related research to submit an abstract for the 2023 Fresh Ideas Competition. The instructions and application are available here. The deadline to submit is February 20, 2023.

Call for Papers: MDPI Journal of Water Special Issue

The Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) is inviting paper contributions to the Special Issue of the Journal of Water titled “Green Water-Infrastructure Systems: Advances in Research and Technology.” The submission deadline is February 28, 2023. More information is available here.

To find more resources offered by Ohio WRC, please visit:

Upcoming Events

Webinar: Harmful Algal Bloom Research Symposium

January 5-6th, 2022 • Virtual

Registration is open for the 3rd Annual Harmful Algal Bloom Research Symposium, hosted by the Algal Bloom Action Team. Topics will focus on the latest harmful algal bloom research, including effective bloom management and the latest technologies being used. 

Have an event you'd like us to feature? Email us at!

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