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Areas of Concern / Sediments

In 1987, the U.S. and Canada committed to restoring the most degraded portions of the Great Lakes basin. Working through the International Joint Commission (IJC), the Great Lakes states and provinces designated 43 Areas of Concern (AOCs), including 26 in U.S. waters and five in binational waterways. AOCs were identified based on 14 types of impairment, reflecting human uses—such as eating fish, drinking water and swimming—and ecological impacts, such as loss of diversity in aquatic life and destruction of fish and wildlife habitat. The most common sources of impairment are contaminated sediments; sewage treatment plant discharges and combined sewer overflows; nonpoint source runoff; runoff from hazardous waste sites; and habitat degradation and destruction. Contaminated sediment is linked to impairments in all 31 U.S. AOCs. Despite the time and effort invested in the AOC program, no U.S. AOCs have been delisted and there is no consistent way to track progress in restoring these waterways. Further, most impacts are not clearly aligned with existing federal water quality regulations, making it difficult to meaningfully document environmental improvements in the AOCs. AOCs need scientifically justified, measurable delisting targets that address AOC-specific conditions and are consistent with federal, state, local, and tribal regulations and policies. Research, remediation and monitoring needed to achieve these restoration targets must be identified, funded, and implemented.


Legislative Activities

Senate Introduces Great Lakes Legacy Act
CSO Weekly Report (2009-04-30)
On April 30, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced The Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2009 (S. 933). The bill is co-sponsored by Senators: Sherred Brown (D-OH); Richard Durbin (D-IL); Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY); Charles Schumer (D-NY); George Voinovich (R-OH); Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Amy Klobuchar (D-MI). The bill would amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002 to reauthorize programs to address remediation of contaminated sediment. The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.

House Passes Major Water Bill
House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (2009-03-12)
The House of Representatives approved H.R. 1262, the “Water Quality Investment Act of 2009”, by a vote of 317 to 101. The bipartisan legislation renews the Federal Government’s commitment to clean water by authorizing $19.4 billion over the next five years for wastewater infrastructure and other efforts to improve water quality. The bill also provides $750 million over five years for remediation of contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern under the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

Water Subcommittee Approves Major Bill to Invest in Water Infrastructure
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (2009-03-04)
The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment approved by voice vote and reported out legislation today to address the nation’s ever-increasing water infrastructure needs. H.R. 1262, the Water Quality Investment Act of 2009, incorporates provisions from four bills that were approved by the House of Representatives in the 110th Congress but were not taken up by the Senate. It also increases the authorized funding levels for the cleanup of contaminated sediment in the Great Lakes, which was enacted into law in 2008 with funding levels below the House-passed version of the bill.



Legislative Priorities

 Great Lakes Legacy Act

 USACE Remedial Action Plan Program

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Updated: October 22, 2014
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