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The Olentangy River rises in Crawford County approximately 2 mi (3.2 km) northeast of Galion, flowing through Galion and northwest towards Bucyrus, where it then turns south and flows through the communities of Delaware, Powell, Worthington, and the campus of the Ohio State University, before joining with the Scioto River in downtown Columbus.
The river is the primary source of drinking water for much of Delaware County. Both the City of Delaware and Del-Co water company, the supplier of drinking water to most of rural Delaware County, draw the majority of their water supplies from the Olentangy system.
Twenty-two miles of the Olentangy have been designated a State Scenic River by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas & Preserves. It was originally called “keenhongsheconsepung”, a Delaware word literally translated as "stone for your knife stream", based on the shale found along its shores. Early settlers to the region translated this into "Whetstone River".