History of Mill Creek Watershed

The Mill Creek lies at the heart, soul, and industrial center of Greater Cincinnati. This 28-mile stream begins in Liberty Township, travels through 34 communities, and flows into the Ohio River just west of downtown Cincinnati. 

History of the Mill Creek Watershed


Historical photo of the Lower Mill Creek

The drainage basin called the Mill Creek Watershed has withstood two centuries of urbanization and is poised for a comeback. The Mill Creek drew settlers over 200 years ago looking for rich, fertile farmland and water power to support industry, ultimately building Cincinnati into a prosperous industrial powerhouse.  Once an unspoiled natural resource, the Mill Creek’s clear, clean water and thick riparian forests provided food, water, and timber for early settlers. The Mill Creek Valley floor was a perfect transportation corridor where industry began to grow and build a thriving economy. Mill Creek is a unique urban stream that has withstood the abuse of the historic slaughterhouses, breweries, mills, and sewage.  The same stream that gave abundantly also took away: the Mill Creek was a convenient dump for industrial and agricultural waste. And while permits and regulations have made significant improvements to water quality, the Mill Creek still suffers from combined sewer overflows, non-point source pollution, litter and trash, and other urban refuse. Today about 450,000 residents live within the watershed’s boundaries along with companies like Procter & Gamble, General Electric, and General Mills. Over time, the landscape and stream path of the Mill Creek have changed and, with the combined efforts of the Council and many others, it will continue to improve.