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Great Lakes AOCs

About Detroit River AOC

Detroit River AOC boundary mapDetroit River AOC Boundary Map The Detroit River was named an Area of Concern on the Great Lakes under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1987.

AOC Boundaries

The Detroit River is a 32-mile international connecting channel linking Lake St. Clair and the upper Great Lakes to Lake Erie. The Detroit River Area of Concern is a binational AOC in which 75 percent of the total land area of the watershed is in Michigan.

The Detroit River AOC is part of a binational system of tributaries, including other AOCs.

Sources of Pollution

The area was considered highly degraded because of:
  • Urban and industrial development
  • Combined sewer overflows
  • Municipal and industrial discharges
  • Stormwater runoff and tributaries
These sources of pollution have contributed to high levels of:
  • bacteria
  • PCBs
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • metals
  • oils and greases

Beneficial Use Impairments

Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

  • Tainting of fish and wildlife flavor – REMOVED 2013
  • Restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor – REMOVED 2011
  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  • Beach closings
  • Fish tumors or other deformities
  • Degradation of aesthetics
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Restriction on dredging activities
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat


Restoring Detroit River AOC (timeline)

Detroit River International Crossing ProjectExit


The following links exit the site Exit

The governing body of Canada that is responsible for the cleanup of the Canadian portion of the AOC.

MDEQ carries out several of the restoration projects in the American section of the Detroit River. They also produce updates to the remedial action plan and create delisting guidelines for the Michigan AOCs.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

A provincial environmental governing agency that aids in the restoration of the Canadian portion of the Detroit River AOC.