Little Miami River safe from East Palestine spill


XENIA — The Little Miami Watershed Network has received several questions in the last couple of days about the watershed and if it has been affected by the catastrophe the Little Beaver Creek watershed is dealing with after the train derailment with its toxic waste in East Palestine.

This has been a terrible time for people and wildlife in the northeast part of Ohio and it will likely take a long time for both to recover. The news is filled with reports on what help is available for the people and how they should be careful of the water and soil and the toxic traces that might be there.

The Little Beaver Creek and the Little Miami River have several things in common: Both are state and national scenic rivers which means they have high quality free flowing water, abundant wildlife, and few human intrusions as part of those programs’ standards.

The map of Ohio’s scenic rivers shows the Little Miami River in the southwest part of the state and the Little Beaver Creek in the northeast part of Ohio and it tells us how they are different, not only in location but in size and designation.

What is important to remember when thinking if one effects the other is to remember that water runs downhill. What happened in the Little Beaver Creek will eventually end up in the Ohio River and although the Little Miami River also flows into the Ohio River, pollutants in the Ohio would never be able to overcome the force of gravity and reach very far into the Little Miami River.

The Little Miami River drops almost 700 feet from its headwaters just north of South Charleston to its mouth just east of Cincinnati. The Little Beaver Creek is not the Little Beavercreek, a LMR tributary in Montgomery and Greene counties.

We are also fortunate that we are west of East Palestine since most of our winds come from the west and blow east.

So while we do not have to worry about the toxic chemical spill that has killed more than 3,500 fish in the Little Beaver Creek, we should be worried about other ways the Little Miami River can be polluted. We know the source of the toxic spill from the train cars, but we do not always know where the pollutants of the Little Miami River come from. Who is using too much nitrogen and phosphorous on their yards and farms? Who is flushing their unused medicines down the toilet? Who is letting their property wash away into the storm drain or creek every time in rains? Who is using micro-plastics? All these activities are just as harmful to aquatic life but at a slower pace than the big one-time train derailment.

We should all be concerned about what is in our water.

You might enjoy following a drop of water from any river to see where it goes by looking at this website:

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