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Great Lakes AOCs

About Kalamazoo River AOC

Map showing boundary of Kalamazoo River AOCKalamazoo River AOC Boundary MapThe Kalamazoo River was designated as an Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  It has been identified as a site of environmental contamination pursuant to the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 451 and is included in Superfund.

AOC Boundaries

The Kalamazoo River drains an extensive watershed in the southwest portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan. The river flows in a westerly direction and discharges into Lake Michigan near the town of Saugatuck. The upstream boundary of the Area of Concern is Morrow Dam and the AOC extends downstream to Lake Michigan; a distance of approximately 80 miles. The city of Kalamazoo is situated along the AOC reach and the city of Battle Creek is a short distance upstream.

Sources of Pollution

The Kalamazoo River was listed as an AOC due to historic releases of PCBs, which originated primarily from de-inking operations at local paper mills. 

Beneficial Use Impairments

Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  • Beach closings – REMOVED 2011
  • Degradation of aesthetics – REMOVED 2012
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Restriction on dredging activities
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat


Restoring the Kalamazoo River AOC (Timeline)

Kalamazoo River Superfund Project


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This organization works to implement projects regarding total maximum daily loads. They address water quality issues in the river and educate the public in watershed stewardship. 

The KRWC is a nonprofit organization that works closely with the public, government agencies and local businesses to protect and improve the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries. They hold many community events during the year and adopt management strategies to ensure the Kalamazoo River is protected in the long-term.

MDNR works to implement a watershed management plan for the Lower Kalamazoo.

MDEQ is responsible for implementing several of the projects identified in the remedial action plans. The agency also composes updates to the Remedial Action Plan