About Our Waterways

Did you know that the Great Lakes are the biggest freshwater source in the world? Lake Erie is the most productive for fishing of all the Great Lakes. Your support helps make our streams clean, clear and healthy so they can support this complex ecosystem. By donating to PCS, you help us reach our goals of restoring rivers that lead to Lake Erie beaches that promote fishable and swimmable conditions for generations.

Support PCS - Donate Now!

Article Index

Ottawa River/Frontal-Lake Erie

Subwatersheds: Ottawa River, Tenmile Creek, Prairie Ditch, Heldman Ditch, Sibley Creek, Shantee Creek, Detwiler DitchOttawa River Frontal Lake Erie NPSIS Map with HUC-12 boundaries

Area: 236 square miles total in the Ottawa River watershed. The Ottawa River is about 20 miles long.

Overview: The Ottawa River’s waters flow from Sylvania in the west through Ottawa Hills and Toledo neighborhoods, and empty into Lake Erie in the Point Place neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio.

The headwaters of the Ottawa River (called Tenmile Creek) are located within the Oak Openings region, a globally rare ecosystem that includes glacial-formed sand dunes, grassland prairie, and oak savannah. The area around the mouth of the Ottawa River is heavily industrial, but also includes some historical wetland remnants. Due to industrial, sewage, and landfill runoff, as well as the slow-flowing nature of the river, the Ottawa River was a focus of water quality concerns beginning in the 1980s. In the past two decades, great strides have been made to improve water quality, including the removal of contaminated sediment and reduction of combined sewage overflows into the river. In 2017, Ohio EPA began to allow limited consumption of fish caught in the Ottawa River, and in 2018, the no-contact advisory for the lower 8.8 miles of the Ottawa River was lifted.

PCS Program Spotlight: The first Clean Your Streams Day in 1997 included five Ottawa River sites. Although Clean Your Streams today includes sites all around our region, some of our biggest longstanding kickoffs are still held within this watershed, including the University of Toledo Kickoff and the Monroe Street UMC Kickoff.

Restoration Project Spotlight: Contaminated Sediment Removal on the Ottawa River

Explore the Watershed: Harroun Community ParkWildwood Preserve MetroparkOttawa ParkManhattan Marsh Preserve Metropark

Further Resources:


Partners for Clean Streams Inc. is striving for abundant open space and a high quality natural environment; adequate floodwater storage capacities and flourishing wildlife; stakeholders who take local ownership in their resources; and rivers, streams and lakes that are clean, clear and safe