Nov. 6 webinar – How does road salt impact the river?

FLOW is participating in SALT WATCH – learn what it is and why it’s important


Road salt is everywhere during winter months. It keeps us safe on roads and sidewalks, but it can also pose a threat to fish and wildlife as well as human health.

Fish and bugs that live in freshwater streams can’t survive in extra salty water. And many of us (more than 118 million Americans) depend on local streams for drinking water. Water treatment plants are not equipped to filter out the extra salt, so it can end up in your tap water and even corrode your pipes.

Abby Hileman of the Izaak Walton League of America will discuss how they are studying the effects of road salt on our waterways. The webinar will cover the following topics:

  • How Salt Watch began
  • Goals of the program
  • What is road/winter salt
  • Salt impacts on wildlife, drinking water, and infrastructure
  • How to participate in Salt Watch
  • When to monitor
  • What to do next (advocacy actions)
  • Regional or national results

FLOW began monitoring in 2022 and plans to continue this year. We welcome more volunteers so we can obtain a clearer picture of how road salt is impacting our watershed.




Abby HilemanAbby Hileman is the Salt Watch Coordinator at the Izaak Walton League of America. In her role, Abby leads the efforts of the Salt Watch program, expanding the project into new regions across the country, reaching new groups of volunteers, and providing resources to make lasting change—from data to action. Abby grew up in Western Pennsylvania, where she began her journey as a lifelong conservationist. She has a passion for connecting people to their communities and to nature and believes that small scale actions add up to make a big impact on conservation success.

20th Annual Olentangy Forum

Join us for the 20th Annual Olentangy Watershed Forum!
Get ready for a day filled with exciting informative presentations, discussions and networking, all centered around the conservation and preservation of the Olentangy River and its watershed.

Date: Fri Oct 27, 2023

Time: 9:00am-3:00pm with an optional tour of DEL-CO.

Location: 6658 Olentangy River Road, Delaware, OH 43015

Our forum is the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow environmental enthusiasts, professionals, and community members who share a passion for protecting our natural resources.

Throughout the day, you’ll have the chance to listen to expert speakers that explore various topics related to the Olentangy watershed.
Whether you’re a seasoned environmentalist or just getting started, this event offers something for everyone. Learn about the latest conservation initiatives, discover ways to get involved, and gain valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing our watershed.
Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on the Olentangy River and its surrounding ecosystem. Mark your calendars and join us for the 20th Annual Olentangy Watershed Forum!
Lunch is provided. Please email with any dietary restrictions. We will do our best to accommodate. Please remember to bring your reusable water bottle and coffee mug. Coffee and water will be served.
Please register for free at Eventbrite


FLOW is seeking Central Ohio artists to turn storm drains in the Short North into public art! 

Phase One was painting 10 storm drains in the OSU campus area. Phase Two will be 10 storm drains in the Short North area!

FLOW is excited to use public art as a tool for storm drain education. We hope to connect the local businesses, residents and general public to more education on storm drains. We want the art to help explain that what goes down the storm drains exits directly into the Olentangy River.

Artists need to be 18 years old or have parental permission. Artists must demonstrate in their application that they have the ability to complete the project.

Round One: Submit application and 3-5 example(s) of current artwork. Deadline: July 14, 2023. Artist chosen for round two will be notified by July 18, 2023.

Round Two: Chosen artists will be selected and asked to submit artwork specifically for the storm drain. Artists are compensated $25 for their design. Deadline: August 9, 2023. Artists chosen to paint on storm drains in the Short North will be notified by August 11, 2023.

Round Three – Selected artists will receive $225 for painting designated storm drain murals. 

October 7th: Paint Storm Drain (October 8th Rain Date)

A panel of community members from FLOW and Short North Alliance will select the finalists at each stage.

All artists will be assigned a specific storm drain. Photo, location and storm drain dimensions will be given to artists. Storm Drains are in high traffic areas along High Street between the Short North area. Each storm drain will be marked so artists do not exceed the storm drain art boundaries.

FLOW will have an art storm drain tour on their website as well as do publicity for residents to experience the different artwork and get more information about individual artists.

FLOW volunteers will be available to answer questions and provide support during the whole process. All artists will need to sign a waiver for the painting event. Traffic cones and safety vests will be provided. Artists are allowed to bring an assistant on the day of painting.

FLOW is given permission by all selected artists to use pictures of the chosen artist’s artwork on social media, FLOW’s website, the project report and any other outlets.

Round one: Submit application and 3-5 example(s) of current artwork.

Round two: Chosen artists are selected and paid $25 to design storm drain specific artwork.

Round Three: Chosen artist will receive $225 for painting their storm drain mural on the designated storm drain.


The storm drain areas will be power washed before painting day. Paint and mixing containers. Artists need to bring their own paint brushes and any additional supplies they want. Once done the art will be sealed and an anti-graffiti coat applied.


Our theme this year is:

The Olentangy River starts here! Only rain down the drain!

Artwork should connect the public to the Olentangy River. You may be surprised to know that the storm drain empties directly into the Olentangy River and we are trying to bring attention to the fact that what goes down the drain goes to the river.


  • The physical storm drain must be incorporated into the painting but the metal storm drain will not be painted on.
  • The artwork must contain no business logos, brands, trademarks or illegal activities depicted.
  • All artwork must be public friendly.
  • FLOWOHIO.ORG must be painted at your location.
  • We also welcome you to put your signature on your artwork.



You can view the walking tour of the OSU campus storm drains here

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion:
FLOW is committed to creating and promoting an equitable, diverse and inclusive culture across in their selection process.

FLOW annual meeting – 2023


Sun, June 18, 10am – 12pm

The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park
352 W Dodridge St.
Columbus, OH 43202

We’re excited for the FLOW Annual Meeting! All are welcome to attend! We will be sharing about our 2022 accomplishments and our future projects. We will also be voting to fill the 2023-2026 term board positions. If you are interested in becoming a board member, please email us at for more details. There will be food and a tour of the Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park. It’s a great time to meet other FLOW members and volunteers. We hope to see you there!


Please note: FLOW’s office is moving! After June 30th, you can reach us at 1404 Goodale Blvd., Suite 100, Columbus OH 43212




May 22 Webinar – Macroinvertebrates and Stream Quality Monitoring

Macroinvertebrates and Stream Quality Monitoring

Monday, May 22 – 6:30 – 7:30 pm
via Zoom

Click here to REGISTER

Macroinvertebrates, SQM, cQHEI – what does this all mean? The diversity and numbers of species of insects found in the Olentangy and its tributaries provides a snapshot of the health of the waterway. Examining the proportion of pollution-intolerant vs pollution-tolerant aquatic life found at any one location tells us how healthy that tributary is. That gives FLOW information we can use when planning where to focus some of our restoration work. Kurt Keljo, retired from Franklin Soil and Water Conservation District, will present an introduction to sampling aquatic invertebrates–a central component of this ongoing project. Jenna Roller-Knapp, aquatic ecologist with MAD Scientist Associates, will give a background introduction to the habitat within streams assessed using the cQHEI. Petra Schmalbrock, (Add Intro of Petra and edit info of what she’ll be covering?) will share a summary of Tributary SQM data from the past seven years. Volunteers are always needed and training will be scheduled in early June.
3 people doing macroinvertebrate testing







A year-end message from the president

As the year is ending we have been reflecting on what an amazing year 2022 has been. Together we have done so much to help the Lower Olentangy watershed. Over 3,384 volunteer hours have been spent cleaning up trash, planting trees, maintaining pollinator gardens, monitoring the tributaries of the Olentangy River, removing honeysuckle and other invasive plants and so much more. We couldn’t do this work without your time and financial support. Thank you!!!

Thank you for reading this special letter from FLOW Board President, Kelly Thiel:

This fall, on a beautiful afternoon, I took a walk along the Olentangy trail just south of Henderson Road. What used to be open grassy fields next to Whetstone High School is now planted with a row of native trees, ready to provide years of shade to trail users and an improved ecosystem for the area. This successful project is just one of many that FLOW made possible this year. Our grant writers are always on the lookout for opportunities to bring dollars to our communities and improve the watershed for all of its inhabitants. These trees were obtained through a grant FLOW received and planted by FLOW volunteers. Our hope is that everyone who passes by these trees benefits from their proven ability to clean the air, improve the soil, increase wildlife habitat, filter storm water and regulate the surrounding temperature.

In order to continue to make a difference we rely on the support of generous individuals and businesses in our community. If you have been to a FLOW event in the last couple of years then you are likely familiar with our fabulous event coordinator. With your support we can keep this position filled, keep our tools stored, and the lights on in our small office. We depend on our community recognizing the value of a healthy watershed to continue to fund the work we do.

In these days of increasing costs for everything from groceries to goods and services my family has been using the outdoors as free entertainment and a benefit to our mental health. It can be easy to take our green spaces for granted and ignore that Columbus is one of the fastest growing heat islands; increased development will put a strain on our streams and tributaries. FLOW remains focused on our mission to maintain the value of one of the community’s most precious assets–The Olentangy River. We need your help to continue this mission and meet the environmental challenges ahead.

If you have donated to FLOW in the past, THANK YOU! Our donors and volunteers make FLOW the great organization it is today. We hope that you’ll consider becoming a member of FLOW. You can give a one time gift or we hope you’ll consider giving as a monthly supporter. Your tax-deductible donation will help keep the Olentangy River safe, clean, and healthy for generations to enjoy in the decades to come. Visit the support page on this website for ways to donate.