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Great Lakes AOCs

St. Lawrence River Area of Concern at Massena/Akwesasne

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 Elizabeth VanRabenswaay

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The St. Lawrence River at Massena was designated as an Area of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative's is used to remediate and restore this AOC for removal from the binational list of AOCs.

AOC Boundaries

The St. Lawrence River at Massena begins above the power dam facilities and seaway locks at the Massena Village drinking water intake.  It follows the river downstream for about fifteen miles to the international border.  It also includes portions of the Grasse, Raquette and St. Regis Rivers in New York State.  The United States, Canada and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe at Akwesasne share authority for the AOC.

Sources of Pollution

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Beneficial Use Impairments

An interim success of remediation and restoration work is removing Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs). BUIs are designations given by the International Joint Commission representing different types of significant environmental degradation. As cleanup work is completed, and monitoring demonstrates sufficient environmental health improvements, BUIs can be removed. The list below shows which BUIs have been removed, and which remain. Once all BUIs are removed, the process of delisting the AOC can begin.

  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations (likely impaired)
  • Fish tumors or other deformities (likely impaired)
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems (likely impaired)
  • Degradation of benthos (likely impaired)
  • Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations (likely impaired) – REMOVED 2015
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Remediation and Restoration Work

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