• Image of bluebells in the spring

    Cuyahoga Valley

    National Park Ohio

There are park alerts in effect.
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  • Valley Bridle Trail Partial Closure

    A section of the Valley Bridle Trail is closed across from the Brandywine Golf Course. There is no estimate of when this section will be open. Please observe all trail closures. More »

  • Plateau Trail Partial Closure

    The outer loop of the Plateau Trail is closed at the Valley Picnic Area junction for bridge repair. The bridge is now unsafe for pedestrian traffice due to accelerated erosion around the base. More »

  • Bald Eagle Closure in Effect Until July 31, 2014

    Returning bald eagles are actively tending to last year's nest within the Pinery Narrows area in CVNP. To protect the eagles from human disturbance, the area surrounding the nest tree will be closed until July 31, 2014. More »

  • Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad (CVSR) Bridge Construction Closures

    Rockside and Canal Visitor Center boarding sites will be closed through Apr 27. From Jan 18 - Mar 16, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Brecksville stations. From Mar 22 - Apr, CVSR will operate between Akron Northside and Peninsula. More »

  • Do Not Feed the Waterfowl and Birds!

    Many people enjoy feeding waterfowl and birds, but the effects of this seemingly generous act can be harmful. Regular feeding can cause: unatural behavior, pollution, overcrowding, delayed migration, and poor nutrition and disease.

  • Closure on Fishing Will Remain in Effect for Virginia Kendall Lake

    Due to the government shutdown, we were unable to survey the fish community in VK Lake as scheduled. Our survey partners (ODNR) will not be able to get into the lake until early spring of 2014. Therefore, the closure on fishing will remain in effect. 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.


Did You Know?

Historic photo of canal boats along the Ohio & Erie Canal.

The Ohio & Erie Canal, which runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, was a 308-mile waterway connecting Lake Erie to the Ohio River. This transportation route, which influenced local and national prosperity, was dug entirely by hand by mostly German and Irish immigrants.