History of the Council

The Council was incorporated in 1995 as a multi-jurisdictional 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to serve as a consensus-building engine among watershed stakeholders to make the Mill Creek Watershed a better place to live, work and play.

History of the Council


In 1995, 17 of 37 political jurisdictions in the watershed signed the original intergovernmental agreement on the banks of the Mill Creek. Since then, the Council has rallied communities and stakeholders to facilitate informed and thoughtful use of our most precious natural resource: water.

In April 1993, the Hamilton County Environmental Action Commission declared the Mill Creek the worst environmental problem in the greater Cincinnati area. A year later, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a report on the creek’s water quality – it was very poor. Of the 27 miles of stream sampled, 24.7 were not attaining use designations for aquatic life habitat and recreation. River restoration proponents had been campaigning for action since the early 1970′s. On April 17, 1996, American Rivers listed the Mill Creek as one of the 20 most threatened waterways in North America. A year later, American Rivers named the Mill Creek “the most endangered urban river in North America” in 1997.On August 26, 1993, the Hamilton County Environmental Action Commission formed a steering committee to address the creek’s condition and future. A watershed management approach was adopted. The efforts on the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., were studied. On June 21, 1995, representatives of 17 political jurisdictions met on the banks of the Mill Creek and signed a unique and historic intergovernmental agreement. They pledged to work together to save the creek and its drainage area. The Mill Creek Watershed Council was formed.

The Council’s membership is broad-based with representatives from political jurisdictions, government agencies, business associations, industries, universities, environmental organizations and recreation groups. Policy decisions are made by consensus. The positions and contacts of many of the members give them substantial capabilities for influencing decisions concerning council objectives. Council activities and fundraising efforts have won the support of local, state and federal elected officials. Members are both personally and professionally motivated. Many have strong but realistic concerns for the environment. They are committed to using common sense, sound scientific reasoning and cost-effective approaches in solving problems. They solicit local community input at frequent intervals. Planning is both short term (yearly tasks) and long term (20 years or more).