Northeast Ohio Rivers Rivers Project



The Northeast Ohio Rivers Project (NORP) is the local Northeast Ohio affiliate of the Global Rivers Environmental Education Network. It began in Cleveland in 1990 with the Cuyahoga River and now involves the Chagrin, Cuyahoga, Grand, Rocky, and Tuscarawas Rivers, as well as Doan Brook and Euclid Creek.


Schools in the various river basins sample sites on each of these rivers. Students look at these stations in several ways with the idea of determining the health of the stations for aquatic organisms. The presence of organisms at the station is strongly related to the physical and chemical characteristics of the stream. Habitat provides shelter for organisms, attachment sites to grow on, turbulent areas for mixing with oxygen, etc. Shifts in community makeup are responses to nutrient availability and habitat changes. Organisms intolerant of pollution tend to be found in habitat with lots of cover, a variety of flow conditions and bottom substrates, and low levels of dissolved toxics. These species tend to be very specific in their needs and don't adapt to a wide range of conditions. Organisms tolerant of pollution tend to be associated with slowly moving water, live much in their life in silt and sediment, and tend to adapt to a broad range of environmental conditions.

The Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index is a measure of the basic state of the habitat for aquatic organisms. The Benthic Macroinvertebrate Index measures the health of the aquatic community. The Water Quality Index provides a snapshot of the chemical characteristics of the stream. Together, these three indices allow us to build a database by which to evaluate the stream's health. The value of the QHEI ratings should suggests that the stream either has the ability to support or not support a certain amount of macroinvertebrate communities. For example, if the macroinvertebrate community is poorer than that which the habitat should be able to support, then we need to look for a pollution source or sources upstream from the sampling area. Testing a stream chemically enables us to see things that are not visible with the naked eye. The presence of toxics or low levels of dissolved oxygen can spell ruin to macroinvertebrate communities in the stream.



Communication is the basis of the Northeast Ohio Rivers Project. Participants share data from sampling events, ideas about how to provide better stewardship of their rivers, information about themselves, poetry, stories, and other things. The main medium for communication is electronic mail. The reason for this is that the area of NORP covers almost a dozen counties in Northeast Ohio, and it is simply infeasible for us all to call each other up on the telephone or use standard mail to share our results. Electronic mail is the fastest, cheapest, and most reliable way for us to communicate.

There are two ways to get information into electronic mail form. The first is simply to send an electronic mailing to our central distribution point, or "Listserve." The name of this central distribution point is NORP-L, and it serves as a central address to which you can send everything you want to share with others in the project. NORP-L isn't a person; it's a computer, and its function in life is to take your messages and send them to everybody else who's subscribed to the system. This is by far the easiest way to share ideas, stories, poetry, and other observations about your station on the river. The other way is used to distribute data generated by sampling in the field. To submit these data, go to the Data Form on this home page, fill in the data, and submit your results. Once every day, the data will be compiled and mailed electronically to all subscribers to NORP-L. They will also be added to the FTP site, where they can be retrieved by all users.

We encourage people to share other information about themselves, their schools, ideas about their rivers, how to clean up their environment, etc. To share such information, send an electronic mail message to All messages sent to this address will be shared with everybody who has subscribed to the Project.

If you would like to subscribe to the project, please click here . You will see a table in which you can indicate your name, your full electronic mail address, and the name of the list you wish to subscribe to (North East Ohio Rivers Project). When you have filled in the first two fields and clicked on the down arrow of the list field until NORP comes up, click on "subscribe to the mailing list" and then click on "Send the Message." You will receive an electronic mail confirmation of your subscription, and you can then share information.


To access the Data Form for Submitting Information About Sample Sites
To access the FTP Site to Obtain Software or Past Data Sets from Project Participants
To subscribe to the Listserve, for Sharing Information and Ideas with other participants


Participants' Past Data Sets Available on the FTP Page
Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index
Water Quality Index
Benthic Macroinvertebrate Index
To Share Data via the Data Form

*This project was created by W. B. Clapham, Jr. and Robin C. Kocher of the Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences at Cleveland State University. Photographs were provided by W. B. Clapham, Jr., Thomas L. Lewis, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. It has been generously supported by the George Gund Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, and the Ohio Environmental Education Fund of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.