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Great Lakes AOCs

About Muskegon Lake AOC

Muskegon Lake AOC Boundary MapMuskegon Lake AOC Boundary MapThe Muskegon Lake AOC in western Michigan includes the entire lake, which is separated from Lake Michigan by sand dunes and a navigation channel. In 2012, a $12 million project under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative’s Legacy Act removed about 43,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

AOC Boundaries

Muskegon Lake is a 4,149 acre inland coastal lake in Muskegon County, Michigan along the east shoreline of Lake Michigan. The Muskegon Lake AOC includes the entire lake; the lake is separated from Lake Michigan by sand dunes. The Muskegon River flows through the lake before emptying into Lake Michigan. Additional tributaries include Mosquito Creek, Ryerson Creek, Ruddiman Creek, Green Creek, and Four Mile Creek. 

The immediate inland area is primarily residential and industrial, with chemical and petrochemical companies, foundries, a pulp and paper mill, and other industries located on the lake or within its immediate watershed.

Sources of Pollution

  • Water quality and habitat problems associated with the historical discharge of pollutants into the AOC.
  • High levels of nutrients, solids, and toxics entering the lake had caused a series of problems including:
    • nuisance algal blooms,
    • reduced oxygen in the lake's deeper water,
    • tainted taste of fish due to petroleum products in the water and
    • contaminated sediments.
  • The degradation of benthos (bottom-dwelling organisms, also referred to as the benthic community), the contamination of fish, and the reduction in fish and wildlife habitat.
  • Localized groundwater contamination that was moving toward the lake and its tributaries.

Beneficial Use Impairments

Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

  • Beach closings - Removed 2015
  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Eutrophication or undesirable algae
  • Restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  • Degradation of aesthetics
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Restrictions on dredging activities - Removed 2011
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat


Restoring Muskegon Lake AOC (timeline)

Division Street Outfall Legacy Act project 

Ruddiman Creek Legacy Act Cleanup 


NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged the navigational channel of Muskegon Lake in 2011 and used the spoils for beach nourishment. The spoils have been used for nourishment since the 1980s, which meets the restoration criteria for the AOC. The area was sampled and, based on the results, the restrictions on dredging BUI was removed in 2011.

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