December 22, 2014

Elyria
Mostly clear
39°F
test

Scientists test Black River water quality

Researchers Sarah Atkins and Mick Micacchion, investigators for the Midwest Biodiversity Institute, paddle up the Black River off Ford Road on Wednesday as they return from collecting water samples. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Researchers Sarah Atkins and Mick Micacchion, investigators for the Midwest Biodiversity Institute, paddle up the Black River off Ford Road on Wednesday as they return from collecting water samples. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

SHEFFIELD LAKE — Despite the swiftly dropping temperatures, scientists continue to gather research in parts of the Black River that once was deemed an area of concern.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s causing (problems in the water) and address that,” said Mick Micacchion, a researcher with the Midwest Biodiversity Institute. “It’s about putting the pieces together.”

Micacchion and fellow researcher Sarah Atkins spent almost two hours on Wednesday collecting water samples along a section of the Black River in the reservation near Interstate 90.

Micacchion said that he tests the water’s pH levels and temperature to see if there are any irregularities. Other researchers look at fish activity in the river, examining their size and relative health, Micacchion said.

Micacchion’s research and sample collecting is part of a larger Black River Restoration Project, which is led by a group of partners including the city of Lorain, Lorain County, Lorain County Metro Parks and Lorain Port Authority.

The partners, with help from Coldwater Consulting, employ multiple companies like the Biodiversity Institute to help examine potential ecological problems with the Black River and work to restore the water quality. The project is made possible by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The group’s efforts are a response to years of pollution to the water. In 1990, the river was named a Great Lake area of concern because of industrial activity near the river that left steel processing byproducts in the water and harmed fish, according to Coldwater Consulting principal owner Krista Risch.

Risch said that over recent years the project has put in grass and trees in the area, improved the health of life forms in the water and removed steel byproducts from the river.

However, she added, almost 100 years of industrial activity in the area has left a lot to be cleaned up.

“I’d say we’ve done a bit, but there’s still a lot to do,” Risch said.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.