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Great Lakes AOCs

About Sheboygan River AOC

map showing the state approved boundary of the Sheboygan River AOCSheboygan River AOC Boundary MapThe 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 Sheboygan River Area of Concern encompasses the lower Sheboygan River downstream from the Sheboygan Falls Dam, including the entire harbor and nearshore waters of Lake Michigan. The AOC serves as a sink for pollutants carried from three watersheds: the Sheboygan River, Mullet River and Onion River.

Sources of Pollution

The 1989 remedial action plan identified several contaminants in the AOC including PCBs, PAHs, heavy metals, fecal coliform bacteria, and excessive amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen. The pollutants came from a range of sources:

  • Rural and urban nonpoint sources (over 50 percent)
  • Unregulated discharges from industrial facilities
  • Sewage treatment plants
  • Spills, illegal dumping and improper disposal of household hazardous waste

Beneficial Use Impairments

Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Eutrophication or undesirable algae -Removed 2015
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  • Fish tumors or other deformities
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations
  • Restriction on dredging activities -Removed 2015
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat


Restoring the Sheboygan River AOC (timeline)

Sheboygan River Project Highlights

Tittabawassee River/Saginaw River/Saginaw Bay Cleanup


The following links exit the site Exit

The University of Wisconsin Extension provides a wealth of information regarding project updates, webinar presentations, upcoming events and more. The Water Action Volunteers is a group of private citizens who volunteer to collect and analyze data to assess stream ecosystem health in the Milwaukee and Sheboygan River Basins. It is facilitated through the extension.

Wisconsin DNR has aided in many restoration projects, which are described on its website. It also summarizes the roles of community programs designed to spread awareness and provide input regarding the Sheboygan River.