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Michigan Great Lakes Areas of Concern Program

Contact: Rick Hobrla 517-335-4173

The Great Lakes form a portion of the international boundary between the United States and Canada, and both countries have jurisdiction over their protection and restoration. The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the United States and Canada was developed in 1972 and established objectives and criteria for the protection, restoration and enhancement of water quality in the Great Lakes system. A revised GLWQA was signed in 1978 recognizing the need to understand and effectively reduce toxic substance loads to the Great Lakes.

The 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement adopted general The 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement adopted general and specific objectives and outlined programs and practices necessary to reduce pollutant discharges to the Great Lakes system. Under Annex 2 of the 1987 Protocol Amending the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the United States and Canadian governments identified 43 areas on the Great Lakes that had serious water quality problems known to cause beneficial use impairment of the shared aquatic resources. These areas have been formally designated by the two governments as Areas of Concern. Michigan has 14 Areas of Concern. 

The Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Areas of Concern (Guidance) identifies the criteria used to determine when a Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) is restored. The Department of Natural Resources and Environment, working with local Public Advisory Councils (PACs) use this Guidance to remove BUIs which will lead to Area of Concern (AOC) delisting. The Guidance provides statewide criteria for twelve of fourteen potential BUIs. Local PAC's could either accept the statewide criteria or develop local BUI removal targets. Locally developed targets, at a minimum, needed to be functionally equivalent to or exceed the criteria in the Guidance. The loss of fish and wildlife habitat and the degradation of fish and wildlife populations BUIs tend to be highly site-specific. Because statewide criteria for these BUIs were not appropriate, the Guidance provided a criteria setting process developed in partnership with agency resource managers, locals, and PAC members which result in AOC-specific local restoration goals needed to remove these BUIs. 

The 2010 Strategy for Delisting Michigan's Areas of Concern (Strategy) identifies actions needed to remove Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) and delist AOCs, establishes Area of Concern Program priorities, and sets resource allocations in the AOC Program. The strategy addresses all identified BUIs within each AOC. This Strategy is a companion document to the Guidance. The AOC BUIs and restoration actions needed are compiled in a table in Appendix A of the Strategy which will be updated by the state on a regular basis. 

Public Involvement 
Public involvement is a key component of the Area of Concern Program in Michigan. Each Remedial Action Plan has had significant input from a Public Advisory Council, a group of stakeholder that participates in the Area of Concern activities. The Statewide Public Advisory Council consisting of members from each of Michigan's 14 Area's of Concern, also supports the Area of Concern Program.  The Statewide Public Advisory Council promotes sharing of ideas across the state's Area of Concerns.  The Public Advisory Councils and Statewide Public Advisory Council provide local stakeholder perspective related to goals and objectives within Area of Concerns.  This relationship is integral to the implementation of the Area of Concern program. 

Measuring Progress
Significant progress within each Area of Concern has occurred since the inception of Michigan's program and has been documented in the various Remedial Action Plans and Remedial Action Plan Updates.  In 2006, in an effort to assess the status of individual Beneficial Use Impairments, direct restoration efforts, and develop benchmarks for measuring their success, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment developed the Guidance for Delisting Michigan's Areas of Concern .  The purpose of this document is to:  1) provide guidance to Area of Concern communities about the state's process for removing Beneficial Use Impairments and delisting Area of Concerns; 2) identify specific quantitative or qualitative criteria which the state will use to determine when Beneficial Use Impairments have been restored.  

The purpose of the 2010 Strategy for Delisting Michigan's Areas of Concern(Strategy) is to identify actions needed to remove Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) and delist AOCs, establish Area of Concern Program priorities, and determine resource allocations in the AOC Program.  The strategy addresses all identified BUIs within each AOC.  This Strategy is a companion document to the Guidance.  The AOC BUIs and restoration actions needed are compiled in a table in Appendix A of the Strategy which will be updated by the state on a regular basis. 

 

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