The Black River was formerly the only river system in Ohio where the entire watershed was designated as an Area of Concern. Because of this, a committee called the Black River Remedial Action Plan, a unique community-based public/private initiative, was formed and adopted the motto, "Our River, Our Responsibility." Based on new guidance from the EPA, the name was changed to the Black River AOC Advisory Committee in 2014. In July 2015, U.S. EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office approved the re-designation of the Black River AOC to no longer include the East and West Branches of the river after reviewing environmental data that showed those branches do not significantly differ in land use or primary causes of unattainment than similar agricultural non-AOC watersheds around the Great Lakes.
Contaminant loadings from point source dischargers (typically industries and waste water treatment facilities) within the Black River watershed have seen significant reductions within the last decade. The AOC Advisory Committee now aims to combat nonpoint source impacts through precision farming techniques; utilization of best management practices during construction; and restoration, enhancement, and protection of the Black River riparian corridor. The Black River AOC Advisory Committee projects and educational activities address a wide variety of these issues.
Properly managing urban, suburban, and rural land use practices throughout the Black River plus the enhancement and protection of natural riparian corridors will improve the quality and productivity of this valuable natural resource.