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Great Lakes AOCs

Kalamazoo River AOC

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Sue Virgilio

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The 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.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

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General information about BUIs: 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

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Remediation and Restoration Work

EPA has continually worked with federal, state and local partners to execute remediation and restoration work in the area with the ultimate goal of removing the AOC designation and revitalizing the surrounding communities.

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