Protect Ohio's Primary Headwater Streams

Even the smallest stream in Ohio has a big impact on the health of our water.

streamsIn Ohio, we have more than 166,962 miles of streams. About 69% of those are primary headwater streams - those small streams that feed into larger ones. Unfortunately, these headwater streams are not currently protected by law. 

Please help us change this!

For nearly 8 years, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to pass rules that would protect these vital high-quality primary headwater streams. These streams:

  • help assimilate pollutants, including the nutrients that degrade our streams and are causing harmful algal blooms;
  • reduce the severity of floods; and
  • reduce the amount of sediment flowing into our waterways.

When these smaller streams are destroyed, it leaves all of Ohio’s waterways at risk. For years the Ohio EPA has been assessing the fate of these streams on a case-by-case basis. Twice now, a group of industrial representatives have stalled oversight rules from moving forward.

That is why we need your help!

Sign on to our letter to the Ohio EPA, Governor Kasich, and leadership at the Statehouse urging the state to move forward with the adoption of rules to protect our headwaters.

Read the full letter here. It is summarized below.

We need your name, city, and zip code to add to our letter to support the protection of these vital waterways. Hurry, we must submit all names by March 7!


  • Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally


*Required fields


Protect Ohio's Primary Headwater Streams

Dear [Decision Maker],

The undersigned citizens of Ohio are writing to support and urge the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to move forward with codifying the Water Quality Standards for classifying Primary Headwater Habitat (PHWH) streams.

Healthy headwater streams help assimilate pollutants, including the nutrients that degrade our streams and are causing the harmful algal blooms that are shutting down our most biologically and recreationally important lakes.

Headwater streams also can assist in reducing the severity of floods and sedimentation. Because of their close connection to groundwater, wetlands, and subsurface water flows, normally functioning primary headwater streams infiltrate part of the water flowing through them, and thereby reduce the amount of erosion and sedimentation that would otherwise occur on of the most pressing problems for Ohio's waterways.

These streams are often altered to move water quickly out of the area into the larger stream, which causes more damaging floods for downstream neighbors and more erosion of stream channels.

The proposed rules clarify existing practices and, all things considered, will move the State forward in protecting Ohio's water quality.

The proposed rules are based on scientifically defensible principles, and provide a common framework for evaluating and discussing impacts to our water systems.

While the undersigned organizations support this rule package and would like to see it enacted as quickly as possible, any further concessions that would negatively impact our water quality may well result in us no longer being supportive.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]