An “Area of Concern” (AOC) refers to an area that had experienced environmental degradation. There are 27 AOCs in the Great Lakes basin. The St. Mary's River was designated an AOC under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Industrial and municipal discharges as well as combined sewer overflows caused impairments of water quality, sediment and biota at the AOC. Priorities for the AOC include restoration of tributaries, cleanup of the Cannelton Tannery Superfund site, sea lamprey control, elimination of combined sewer overflows and remediation of contaminated sediments.
Staff of Bay Mills Biological Services serve on the St. Mary’s River Bi-National Public Advisory Council (BPAC). The BPAC is a stakeholders group and members include citizens, property owners, tribes, elected officials, health units, municipal staff, and university staff from both Canada and the United States. The BPAC informs the government agencies about public views and opinions regarding the clean-up of the St. Mary’s River AOC and advocates for projects that achieve the restoration goals. BPAC is dedicated to ensuring that the river water quality and the ecosystem are improved and protected for all users of the river.