St. Clair River Reaches Milestone in Recovery - Studies show river meets recovery target, benefiting area community and wildlife

Contact: Rachel Coale, Office of the Great Lakes,, 517-290-4295
Agency: Environmental Quality

July 10, 2017

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Office of the Great Lakes today announced a milestone in the recovery of the St. Clair River Area of Concern (AOC). Multiple studies have shown that the reproduction and life cycles of area wildlife are not being hindered by historic development activities. These findings are attributed to improved environmental protection practices reducing pollution levels in the region.

The St. Clair River carries Great Lakes water from Lake Huron to Lake St. Clair and forms a natural border with Michigan’s Canadian neighbors. It was designated as a binational AOC under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement due to legacy pollution from urban, industrial, and agricultural development activities that occurred along the riverfront. Adverse impacts to the river were labeled Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs).

Office of the Great Lakes AOC program staff collaborated with the MDEQ Water Resources Division, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a dedicated local public advisory council to track the river’s recovery. The OGL provided coordination, technical assistance, and a portion of funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Additional GLRI funding was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The EPA agreed with MDEQ recommendations to officially remove the Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems BUI based on a review of environmental data, including studies of the fish, tree swallows, mink, and bald eagles that call the St. Clair River home. More information can be found on Michigan’s St. Clair River AOC webpage.

This achievement marks Michigan’s 45th BUI removal from an original 111 in the state. Another of the St. Clair River’s three remaining impaired beneficial uses, the Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat BUI, is expected to be restored by the end of 2017. 

“This accomplishment is a great step toward realizing the vision of a healthy, revitalized St. Clair River,” said Jon W Allan, Director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes. “A recovering St. Clair River opens an opportunity for future community enjoyment and stewardship of this important resource.”

Learn more about how the Office of the Great Lakes works to protect, restore, and sustain Michigan’s water resources at


Additional contact: Melanie Foose, Office of the Great Lakes, , 517-897-3244