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The Maumee River watershed covers 8,316 square miles in northwestern Ohio, northeastern Indiana and southeastern Michigan. The river enters the western basin of Lake Erie at Toledo, Ohio.
The watershed is a fertile agricultural region that contains many concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), principally hogs, poultry and dairy. Agricultural runoff contaminates the river. In addition, industrial sites, wastewater treatment plants and combined sewer overflows continue to pollute, although not as much as in the past.
Consequently, the mouth of the Maumee River is loaded with sediment, toxins, pathogens and nutrients. Among the nutrients, phosphorus is notable for its contribution to the algal blooms that plague western Lake Erie. Climate change is a factor, as well.
Toledo is a major Great Lakes port. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Corps) is responsible for maintaining a draft of 28 feet in the navigation channel and moorings in the river and harbor.