The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO), was established on June 30, 1948 to control and abate pollution in the Ohio River Basin. ORSANCO is an interstate commission representing eight states and the federal government. ORSANCO operates programs to improve water quality in the Ohio River and its tributaries, including: setting waste water discharge standards; performing biological assessments; monitoring for the chemical and physical properties of the waterways; and conducting special surveys and studies. ORSANCO also coordinates emergency response activities for spills or accidental discharges to the river, and promotes public participation in programs, such as the Ohio River Sweep and the RiverWatchers Volunteer Monitoring Program.
ORSANCO sets Pollution Control Standards for industrial and municipal waste water discharges to the Ohio River, and tracks certain dischargers whose effluent can seriously impact water quality. The standards designate specific uses for the Ohio, and establish guidelines to ensure that the river is capable of supporting these uses. To keep pace with current issues, ORSANCO reviews the standards every three years. As part of the review process, workshops and public hearings are held for public input.