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Great Lakes AOCs

Sheboygan River AOC

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Kevin O'Donnell

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The Sheboygan River 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. Sheboygan River 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

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Beneficial Use Impairments

General information about BUIs: Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs

  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Eutrophication or undesirable algae -Removed 2016
  • 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

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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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