Great Lakes Areas of Concern

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Great Lakes Areas of Concern are designated geographic areas within the Great Lakes Basin that show severe environmental degradation. There are a total of 43 areas of concern within the Great Lakes, 26 being in the U.S., 17 in Canada, with five shared by the two countries.

Three Canadian AOCs have been delisted and one U.S. AOC has been delisted leaving 30 AOCs remaining on the U.S. side of the border.

Beneficial Use Impairments

The AOCs are impaired for one or more of the following beneficial use impairments:

  • Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
  • Eutrophication or undesirable algae
  • Tainting of fish and wildlife flavor
  • Restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor
  • Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
  • Beach closings
  • Fish tumors or other deformities
  • Degradation of aesthetics
  • Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
  • Added costs to agriculture or industry
  • Degradation of benthos
  • Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations
  • Restriction on dredging activities
  • Loss of fish and wildlife habitat

Remedial Action Plans

Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) are being developed for each of these AOCs to address impairments to any one of 14 beneficial uses associated with these areas. EPA has assigned RAP Liaisons for AOCs. Sediments have been identified as serious problems in many AOCs. AOC Principles and Guidelines have been finalized for formally delisting these areas as beneficial uses are restored.

Areas of Concern

The U.S. and binational AOCs include:

Information on the US AOCs can be found at the USEPA AOC website.