State of the Beach/State Reports/OH

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Ohio has good beach access information but access is hampered by the amount of private property development along Lake Erie's shoreline. Beach water quality information is fairly good but there are significant water quality problems. Beach erosion has been a long-running issue and much of the shoreline is armored in response to this. There is increasing awareness of the impacts of armoring on littoral processes and wetlands/beach ecology, but there is a distressingly low amount of natural coastline left to protect. The DNR Office of Coastal Management website is a good source of information on Ohio beach health indicators.

Ohio Ratings


(+) The DNR Office of Coastal Management is developing the Lake Erie Shore Erosion Management Plan to provide recommendations on best practices for addressing erosion issues. In addition to giving an overview of the effects of erosion on the Ohio coast of Lake Erie, the plan will include specific strategies for controlling erosion based on regions and reaches within regions.

(+) As an enforceable policy of the Coastal Management Program, strategic retreat from the shore is encouraged to preserve the natural function of natural resources that provide coastal hazard protection and mitigation.

(+) Owned and managed by Lake Metroparks, the Lake Erie Bluffs provides approximately 600 acres of lakefront property that permanently protects valuable coastal wetlands, meadow and 9,000 feet of undeveloped Lake Erie shoreline. The beach area hosts trees, shrubs and small plants including the majority of the preserve’s rare plants while the wetlands area is home to dozens more rare plant and animal species documented by biologists from Lake Metroparks and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The project entailed a partnership among federal, state, and local agencies to acquire and preserve natural beach and coastal wetlands habitat in Lake County, Ohio approximately 30 miles east of Cleveland.

(+) The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), in partnership with LimnoTech and the Great Lakes states, has developed a free smartphone application that provides convenient, public access to swim advisories and other environmental conditions information for more than 1,800 beaches in the Great Lakes region. The myBeachCast application (app) retrieves locational and advisory data for Great Lakes in the eight Great Lakes states. The app also features real-time and forecasted weather and lake conditions (e.g., water temperature, wave heights, wind speed/direction) and nearshore marine forecasts, drawn from the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). myBeachCast allows users to discover local beaches based on the user’s location, view beaches and their status on a map, save favorite beaches, and get driving directions. To download myBeachCast, go to

(+) Ohio has excellent beach access information, including the Ohio DNR Lake Erie Public Access Guide.

(+) The Ohio Coastal Atlas Project was awarded a 2008 National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) Environmental Education Award for Education Excellence.

(+) The Ohio Coastal Training Program (CTP) is a partnership of four programs that collaborate to conduct research, provide education and manage the natural resources of the Lake Erie coastal region: Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), Ohio Sea Grant College Program, ODNR Office of Coastal Management, and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission. These programs regularly join forces with non-profit organizations, universities, and other agencies to deliver science-based training to professionals throughout the Lake Erie watershed. Read more.

(+) Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) are a big problem in Ohio. However, some good news regarding this problem was announced in December 2010. A major new infrastructure program to reduce or treat raw sewage flowing into Cleveland-area waterways and Lake Erie will move forward, as a result of a Clean Water Act settlement between the U.S. government and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). The program includes the construction of seven new tunnels and at least $42 million in green infrastructure projects. The tunnels will increase the amount of stormwater that can be stored during wet weather events, so that the sewer district's wastewater and combined sewer overflow treatment facilities, which currently use a bypass system, can increase the amount of wastewater that can be treated, Read more.

(-) Ohio has not conducted vulnerability assessments to identify impacts lake level fluctuations and erosion, both of which are expected to be exacerbated by climate change. Additionally, there are no shoreline setback policies on development despite coastal erosion being a serious problem for coastal construction.

(-) In March 2017 the Trump administration proposed a 97% cut in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

(-) NOAA has noted: "The OCMP has not yet finalized a plan for increasing enforcement of and compliance with coastal regulations, even though the development of an enforcement plan was listed as a necessary action in the previous Section 312 evaluation findings. [...] Since the previous evaluation, there has been no issuance of a compliance order, despite the fact that there have been numerous documented complaints each year from adjacent property owners and others. [...] The OCMP also needs to develop a plan to address the numerous existing fill sites and structures that were illegally constructed without any review or authorization by the State."

(-) Approximately 85% of the land bordering Lake Erie in Ohio is developed and held in private ownership and only 13% of the Lake Erie shoreline is open to public access.

(-) Ohio is a “home rule” state, and the state can only recommend sampling practices, standards, and notification protocols and procedures to local entities that participate in the beachwater quality monitoring program.

(-) Within Ohio, beach closures, coastal erosion problems, failing home septic systems, and combined sewer and sanitary sewer overflows impact the quality of nearshore areas. In addition to the direct negative impact on health and property, secondary impacts include reduced property values, lower tourism rates, and a persistent negative view of the value of the Great Lakes.

(-) Some portions of Lake Erie’s shoreline have been 100% modified by dikes and shoreline armoring. There is currently little remaining of the natural physical environment on Lake Erie’s shores except around the Bass Islands and Kelleys Island. Though shore stabilization can be achieved in ways that minimize destruction of or enhance habitat quality, these approaches have been little used historically.


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State of the Beach Report: Ohio
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