About Rivers Unlimited
Rivers Unlimited is an Ohio statewide group of organizations to protect and restore rivers. We're the oldest in the nation, founded in 1972, at a time when rivers were covetously regarded by dam builders and channelizers, threatening the health of our waterways and the people whose farms, homes, and livelihoods depend on them.
Our mission is to restore, maintain and improve Ohio's rivers and streams, their water quality, scenic beauty, their multiple economic uses and their effect upon Ohio's quality of life.
The waters of the United States are held in public trust by our governments. The condition of our river waters and their corridors affects our economy, our environment, our quality of life, sustainability of our communities and environmental justice. That's what underlies our mission!
What we've been doing:
- Working intensively with several river groups - Pike Run, Spring Valley, Rocky Fork, Western Hamilton County, Ohio River, Mill Creek, Great Miami, Little Miami, Hocking, Muskingum, Cuyahoga and Mad River.
- Leading workshops on River Resource Economics, including one at the Ohio River Symposium.
- Conducting a Resource Economics study of the Great Miami River.
- Working with the Ohio River Way, covering the well-being and development of the 120-mile stretch between Maysville, KY and Madison, IN.
- Through Community Compass, we have written rivers policy for the Hamilton County Planning Commission, covering the Ohio, Great Miami, Mill Creek and Little Miami rivers and their tributaries within the county.
- Addressing numerous organizations, including University of Cincinnati Economics Club, Ohio Citizen Action, Concerned Citizens of Western Hamilton County, Pearl Casters, Little Miami Partnership, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Reynoldsburg.
- Receiving major publicity with Cincinnati Magazine, Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati Post, Channel 12 and Channel 9.
- Conducting a Resource Economics methodology study of restoration of channelized streams, studying the costs and benefits of restoration.
- Planning for the Ohio River Paddlefest and furnishing a Commodore for the 6-mile trip down the river, which in 2005 was taken by over 1,200 canoeists and kayakers.
- Conducting a study of the lower ten miles of the Great Miami River, using aerial photographs and surveillance from the river, in hopes to bring the river into the Ohio state scenic river program.
What we've done:
- Rivers Unlimited has prevented the construction of dams on numerous Ohio waterways including Salt Creek, Whiteoak Creek, Mill Creek in Delaware and Union Counties, at Utica on the Licking, and on Big Darby Creek near Columbus. We helped prevent a dam on Ohio Brush Creek which was threatening Serpent Mound. Rivers also abolished a Conservancy District that would have put 11 dams on Pine Creek in Lawrence County and thrown 300 families out of their homes.
- Rivers Unlimited helped prevent the channelization of the Tiffin River, the Wabash, and Beaver Creek.
- Rivers Unlimited has been active in promoting the value of our rivers through their inclusion in the Ohio Scenic Rivers System and the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. We helped bring the lower section of the Little Miami and Big Darby Creek into both the Ohio Scenic River System and National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. We helped bring the Kokosing River into the Ohio Scenic River System.
- In 1994, we were given $360,000 of an industrial water pollution fine settlement under the citizen suit provision of the Clean Water Act. We founded the Mill Creek Restoration Project, which has taught some 5,000 students in water quality monitoring and analysis, has done much of the planning towards restoration of the creek and is now beginning construction of an urban/industrial greenway.
- In 1999 we founded Friends of the Great Miami, which works to protect this 5371 square-mile watershed.
- We founded the Ohio Natural Heritage Rivers System to acknowledge the work of any group to improve a stream and to recognize the value of that stream to the general public. This recognition lends support, image and publicity to the river and its threats and promises. The program is a Rivers Unlimited innovation.
- Prepared a major application for the Little Miami river to become one of American Rivers' Most Endangered Rivers for 2003 because of the imminent threat of another bridge and highway and worsened water quality from upstream sewage plants.
Over the past 34 years, we have acquired many diverse and useful capabilities. In general they are technical, organizational, legal, legislative and networking. We draw upon the experience of many groups, national, state and local.
Ways we can collaborate with you:
- We may challenge pollution legislation or water or highway development project plans at any stage and in court. We may cooperate in writing rules to interpret/carry out legislation. The protection and restoration of rivers may require our involvement in land use planning, flooding and flood damage reduction, toxic waste disposal, precipitated airborne pollutants (such as mercury from coal-fired plants resulting in fish consumption advisories) national and state scenic river designation procedure, carrying capacity, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, bridges, mining and forestry impacts - even unexploded ordnance at beaches at the mouth of a river.
We have experience working on the following issues:
- Bridges and highways - what they do to rivers
- Canoe and kayak floats and races
- Clean Water Act: Anti-degradation
- Conservancy Districts
- Dams - safety, removal, renewal, impacts on fish, fishing water quality, erosion, design life, reservoir life expectancy, spillways, hydropower, alternatives
- Development - effects on rivers
- Diversion, stream relocation
- Drainage (ditch) laws
- Environmental attorneys
- Environmental impact statements - how to analyze
- Environmental justice
- Fishing (sport), economic value
- Floods, flooding, floodplains, management, stormwater storage about and underground
- Founding river-protective organizations - Rivers Unlimited founded the Mill Creek Restoration Project (1993) and Friends of the Great Miami (1999)
- Gravel mining and restoration
- Greenways (founded Greenways for Ohio in 1990)
- Joint petition to United States Environmental Protection Agency to enforce pollution permitting
- Land Trusts
- Landfills, leachate, percolation, aquifers, tactics of operators and haulers
- Log jams
- Municipal incinerators
- Pesticide use reduction
- Pollution permitting - National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, Permit to Install, Permit to Operate, Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act
- River designations: National Wild and Scenic Rivers, State Wild and Scenic Rivers, Ohio Natural Heritage Rivers - their various values and limitations
- River protective zoning
- River Resource Economics - the ultimate engine to drive restoration of degraded rivers. A Rivers Unlimited invention, funded by us for the past eight years at Ohio State University.
- Service on public advisory committees on water quality, stream protection, greenways and planning affecting river corridors
- Sewers, septic systems, overflows - combined and sanitary
- Stream bank erosion - effects, causes and cures
- Stream Restoration, contractors
- Total Maximum Daily Loads (of pollution into our waters)
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - purposes, projects, misdeeds, reform
- Unexploded ordinance
- Urban rivers
- Water quality - silt, chemical, bacteriological, biological, presence near streams, water use designations
- Watershed perviousness and effects on streams
- Wells, contamination, change in water table
Upon request we may consult, testify, investigate, negotiate and join in lawsuits on behalf of river groups.