The Ashtabula River is located in northeast Ohio, flowing into Lake Erie at Ashtabula, Ohio. Tributaries include Fields Brook, Hubbard Run, Strong Brook, and Ashtabula Creek. The bottom sediments, bank soils and biota of Fields Brook have been severely contaminated by unregulated discharges of hazardous substances. Hazardous substances have migrated downstream from Fields Brook to the Ashtabula River and Harbor, contaminating bottom sediments, fish and wildlife. There are presently more than 1,000,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in the Ashtabula River and Harbor, much of which originated from Fields Brook. Contaminants include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated benzenes, chlorinated ethenes, hexachlorobutadiene, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), other organic chemicals, heavy metals and low level radionuclides.
A Preassessment Screen, using existing data, was completed for the Ashtabula River and Harbor on May 18, 2001. Among the findings was that the fish community at Ashtabula contained approximately 45 percent fewer species and 52 percent fewer individuals than the Ohio EPA designated reference area, Conneaut Creek. The Ashtabula River and Conneaut Creek are similar in many respects, with the exception of the presence of contamination at Ashtabula. The difference in the fish communities between the two sites is believed to be at least partially a result of the hazardous substance contamination at Ashtabula. In order to investigate this matter further, the Trustees elected to conduct a study of the status and health of the aquatic biological communities of the Ashtabula River and Conneaut Creek in 2002-2004. The following document contains brief method descriptions (more detail available in attached Appendix A) and a summary of the data used to evaluate the health status of brown bullheads (Ameiurus nebulosus) and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) collected from the above sites.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Fish Health Study Ashtabula River Natural Resource Damage Assessment