Black River (Ohio)

River Basin Characteristics

Black River – Lorain Harbor

The Black River is located in north-central Ohio, and discharges to the Federal navigation channel at Lorain Harbor in Lake Erie. The total watershed area encompasses 467 square miles and includes portions of Lorain, Medina, Ashland, Huron and Cuyahoga counties. The major sub-watersheds include the French Creek, East and West Branch, and Black River mainstem. The watershed drops from roughly 1,130 feet in elevation to about 570 feet from the upper to the lower basins.

Landuse distribution and land cover in the Black River Watershed

Land use within the watershed is comprised of roughly 51 percent agricultural, 38 percent rural, 7 percent urban residential, 3 percent commercial, and 1 percent industrial. Land disturbances due to high residential growth and intensive agriculture practices erode the soils within the basin, causing significant sediment transport to the lower reaches of the river and into Lorain Harbor. Numerous dams and reservoirs are also utilized throughout the watershed as water supply sources and for recreational purposes.

Modeling Approach

Topography and SWAT delineated subbasins within the Black River watershed

Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and Better Assessment Science Integrating Point and Nonpoint Sources (BASINS) modeling was used to evaluate sub-watershed sediment transport and yield within the Black River basin. Vegetative Filter Strip Model (VFSMOD) was also used to develop buffer strip trapping effectiveness in sub-watersheds identified by initial SWAT model runs.

Modeling for the Black River project was completed in August 2007, and a training workshop for state and local partners was held in September 2007.

 Use and Applications

The buffer strip modeling capabilities will be used by soil and water conservation districts to identify priority agricultural locations causing nonpoint source sedimentation and encourage implementation of buffer strips through the CREPS program. The Ohio EPA plans to use the SWAT model to further develop their assessment of TMDLs throughout the watershed. Lorain County also plans to use the SWAT model to identify urban Best Management Practices (BMPs) needed to control sedimentation in the rapidly developing French Creek subwatershed.

Project Partners

For More Information:


Mike Voorhees
USACE, Buffalo District
1776 Niagara Street
Buffalo, NY 14207
Phone: (716) 879-4488