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Great Lakes AOCs

About Saginaw River and Bay AOC

map showing the state approved boundary of the Saginaw River and Bay AOCSaginaw River and Bay AOC Boundary Map The Saginaw River and Bay was designated as an Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Contaminated sediments, fish consumption advisories, degraded fisheries and loss of significant recreational values are the major reasons for this AOC designation. Saginaw Bay priorities include nonpoint pollution control, wetland and habitat restoration, and remediation of sediment contaminated with dioxin, PCBs and other organics. 

AOC Boundaries

The Saginaw Bay area, located in the east central portion of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, is a southwestern extension of Lake Huron. The boundaries of the Area of Concern includes the entire 22-mile length of the Saginaw River and all of Saginaw Bay out into its interface, with open Lake Huron at an imaginary line drawn between Au Sable Point and Point Aux Barques.

Sources of Pollution

  • Industrial waste discharges
  • Municipal, industrial and stormwater discharges
  • Combined sewer overflows
  • Agricultural and urban runoff

Contaminants in the AOC include dioxins, furans, PCBs, chloride, metals, acids, and excessive nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus.

Beneficial Use Impairments

Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Eutrophication or undesirable algae
  • Tainting of fish and wildlife flavor – REMOVED 2008
  • Restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor – REMOVED 2008
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  • Beach closings
  • Degradation of aesthetics
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations
  • Restriction on dredging activities
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat – REMOVED 2014


Restoring Saginaw River and Bay AOC (timeline)

Tittabawassee River/Saginaw River/Saginaw Bay Cleanup


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The Land Policy Institue participates in several water quality projects, some of which are funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. They also help local and regional stakeholders adopt new management strategies in the watershed.

MDEQ is primarily responsible for developing the remedial action plan. They also execute many of the restoration projects in the AOC.

The Partnership for Saginaw Bay Wathershed (PSBW) is a voluntary, membership-based coalition of public and non-governmental agencies, organizations and individuals committed to sustaining or restoring the ecology of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. The PSBW promotes comprehensive resource management and educational services by facilitating inter-governmental coordination and public involvement, formulating public policy recommendations, and undertaking various programs and projects to restore, protect and enhance Michigan's largest watershed. 

Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network