Celebration day, FLOW-style: FLOW and Anheuser-Busch folks started the day by planting a pollinator garden.

FLOW has now had twenty years of organizing, planning, planting, measuring and otherwise looking after the quality and safety of the Olentangy River.

You can see the results all around. Some of the important accomplishments:

  • Completing the Watershed Action Plan – only meant to be a five year plan, but still used today as a roadmap for the future. This entailed many meetings that got the community involved and connected with the river.
  • Improving water quality as a result of four dam removals.
  • Getting the Lower Olentangy Water Trail approved, which gives paddlers access points to the river and encourages enjoyment of the river and the natural areas around it.
  • Planting trees and native wildflowers all over the watershed, to provide habitat, reduce polluting runoff, and offer outdoor enjoyment for all.

It started in 1997 when Amanda Davey, just finishing at The Ohio State University, saw an article about watershed coordinators. She contacted the Ohio EPA and thus began the steps that formed Friends of the Lower Olentangy.

Using Amanda’s OSU contacts and Vince Mazika’s EPA contacts, the original email got an enormous response. They formalized the group as a 501c3 non-profit, set up a board of directors, put together a mission, and began monthly meetings with educational and business topics.

The early founders envisioned an organization that would be a clearinghouse for the river, and sustainable over the years. The decision was made to work together with partners rather than serve in an adversarial role.

“I am so impressed with what FLOW has done and how it has maintained itself, Amanda says. “The city uses the river as an asset now. The water quality is maintaining, which is good with all the development pressure up north.”

A grant allowed the group to hire Erin Miller as its first watershed coordinator. She served from 2000-2004, when the organizational foundations were established, membership was built, and the watershed plan was completed.

“Working for FLOW was one of the highlights of my career,” Erin says. “The board members are extremely involved, and always have been. They did GIS mapping, took photos that brought the river to life, helped with financial expertise.”

“It has always been a very reputable group, one that is science based and community focused. FLOW’s vision is for the community to be connected to an appreciative of the Olentangy River,” Erin explains.

Among the core group that started FLOW, and now enjoying the 20th anniversary: George Anderson, Joanne Leussig, Amanda Davey, Jennifer Fish, Russ Fish, Joe Motil.