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Lower Menominee River delisted after remediation

MENOMINEE — After a 35-year collaborative restoration effort, the Lower Menominee River has been removed from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced.

The change from a highly contaminated three-mile section of river into one that is a sportfishing destination with successfully reproducing fish and wildlife populations is a result of long-term and substantial commitments from many partners over more than three decades. The river’s sediment was contaminated with arsenic and other related legacy contaminants include paint sludge, coal tar, heavy metal, petroleum and PCBs.

The delisting is the culmination of extensive work by EGLE, WDNR, EPA and other federal agencies, and local citizens who served on the Citizens Advisory Committee and the Technical Advisory Committee.

After the Lower Menominee River was designated as an AOC in 1985, six beneficial use impairments were identified: beach closings (restrictions on recreational contact), restrictions on dredging activities, degradation of benthos, restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, loss of fish and wildlife habitat and degradation of fish and wildlife populations.

Some of the actions that partners have undertaken over the years include upgrades to wastewater treatment systems by the cities of Menominee and Marinette, Wisconsin; four contaminated sediment remediation projects; and four habitat restoration and enhancement projects.

Delisting does not mean the area has returned to a pristine historic condition. It means the legacy problems identified in the 1990 remedial action plan today meet established criteria. There will be ongoing remediation and restoration efforts on the Lower Menominee River.

The Lower Menominee River is the third Michigan site to be delisted. Deer Lake in Marquette County and White Lake in Muskegon County were delisted in 2014.

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