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    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

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  • Photographic Society Members' Show Rescheduled

    Thursday, August 14 Cuyahoga Valley Photographic Society Members' Show has been rescheduled to 7 p.m. on Thursday, August 21 at Hines Hill Conference Center.

  • Towpath Trail Closure

    Towpath Trail is closed from Mustill Store to Memorial Parkway for riverbank reinforcement. Detours posted. Closure will last 1 - 4 weeks into August. More »

  • Other Closures

    Valley Bridle Trail south of SR 303, across from golf course, is collapsed by river. Hard closure. Plateau Trail Bridge, north of Valley Picnic Area is closed. No detours. Plateau & Oak Hill trails are open. More »

  • Road Closures

    Quick Rd is closed from Akron Peninsula Rd to Pine Hollow Trailhead in Peninsula, from Wednesday, 7/16, for 6 weeks. Detours posted. More »

  • Riverview Road Repaving

    Riverview Rd is being repaved from the Cuyahoga-Summit Cty line to Peninsula through Mon, 9/15. Road is open but there are still delays due to construction. Allow extra time. More »

Instant Bacteria Forecasts Available for Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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Date: June 17, 2013
Contact: Amie Brady, USGS, 614-430-7760
Contact: Mary Pat Doorley, CVNP, 440-546-5995, 440-343-7355 (cell)
Contact: Marisa Lubeck, USGS, 303-202-4765

Near real-time river water-quality forecasts for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) in northeastern Ohio are now available online.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists, in collaboration with the National Park Service, have developed a system to quickly forecast bacteria levels and estimate water-quality conditions at a site along the Cuyahoga River within the CVNP. A computer model uses current weather and environmental conditions to forecast Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria concentrations in the river, and results are automatically posted on the Ohio Nowcast website. This information can help recreationalists plan river trips and better inform park managers.

"Our method and model to predict water-quality could be customized for other river locations across the nation as long as unique environmental factors are considered and tested for at each location," said Amie Brady, USGS research hydrologist.

While the predictions are available daily for the site along the river, visitors should still use caution when contacting Cuyahoga River water—especially after heavy rainfall—because storm water discharge and combined-sewer overflows from urban areas upstream of the park can result in elevated bacteria levels.

"The park has always been concerned about the water-quality of the river and the safety of our visitors," said Stan Austin, Superintendent of CVNP. "The predictive model will provide us with critical information as we move towards exploring greater recreational use of the river."

Managers issue water-quality advisories or closings in the United States when concentrations of indicator organisms, such as E. coli, exceed state-designated safety standards. Indicator organisms are present in sewage and waste, and signify the possible presence of pathogens, or disease-causing organisms.

Current methods to determine levels, or concentrations, of E. coli take at least 18 hours to complete. During this period, E. coli concentrations can change dramatically. This means that a site may be closed unnecessarily, or an advisory may not be posted on a day when the risk of pathogen exposure is high.

"Instead of waiting for E. coli to grow in the laboratory, we can quickly measure factors that explain changes in E. coli concentrations, enter them into a computer program, and obtain a prediction of recreational water-quality in near real-time," Brady said.

For the Cuyahoga River site, USGS scientists found that the best factors to estimate E. coli levels were turbidity, or cloudiness, of the water, and rainfall totals from the National Weather Service within the last 48 hours.

"With information from a water-quality monitor that was installed in 2012, we can make daily water-quality forecasts that are fully automated," said Brady. "We will maintain manual sample collection to ensure that the model continues to work well, but we will no longer have to sample every day."

The CVNP encompasses 33,000 acres along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, and is managed by the National Park Service, CVNP.

For more information, please visit the USGS Ohio Water Science Center website.

USGS provides science for a changing world. Visit www.USGS.gov, and follow us on Twitter @USGS and our other social media channels. Subscribe to our news releases via e-mail, RSS or Twitter.

Links and contacts within this release are valid at the time of publication.

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Did You Know?

Water lilies in beaver marsh area of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Photo by NPS volunteer John Catalano.

Beaver in Cuyahoga Valley National Park impounded water to create a rich, diverse wetland in an area that was once an automobile junk yard? The area is now home to herons, turtles, amphibians, beavers, muskrats, otters, and many aquatic plants.