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Saginaw River and Bay

Contact Information

U.S. EPA RAP Liaison
Jamie Schardt
(schardt.james@epa.gov)
312-353-5085

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 5 Office of Regional Counsel
77 W. Jackson Blvd. (C-14J)
Chicago, IL 60604-3507

State RAP Contacts
Michelle Selzer
(selzerm@michigan.gov)
517-241-3731
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – Water Bureau
525 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing, MI 48909

Charlie Bauer
(bauerc@michigan.gov)
989-894-6272
Saginaw Bay Initiative Contact
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – Water Bureau
401 Ketchum Street, Suite B
Bay City, MI 48708

Local Coordinator:
Dennis Zimmerman
(denniszimm@earthlink.net)
989-588-9343
Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed
P.O. Box 325
Lake George, MI 48633-0325

Frequent Acronyms

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Saginaw River and Bay AoC Boundary Map

Saginaw River and Bay AOC Boundary Map (PDF) (1pg, 1.0MB)

Saginaw shape file (ZIP) (563K)

Background

The Saginaw Bay area, located in the east central portion of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, is a southwestern extension of Lake Huron. The boundaries of the Saginaw River/Bay Area of Concern (AOC) includes the entire 22-mile (35 km) length of the Saginaw River and all of Saginaw Bay (1,143 square miles or 2,960 square kilometers) out into its interface with open Lake Huron at an imaginary line drawn between Au Sable Point and Point Aux Barques. Over half of the land use in the region is agricultural. The primary urban and industrial centers are Flint, Saginaw, Bay City and Midland.

The Saginaw Bay watershed is one of Michigan's most diverse areas – its rich resources support agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, outdoor recreations, and a vast variety of wildlife. It is also Michigan's largest watershed (8,709 square miles or 22,556 square kilometers in size), including a part of 22 counties and contains America's largest contiguous freshwater coastal wetland system. The watershed drains approximately 15% of Michigan's total land area.

Contaminated sediments, fish consumption advisories, degraded fisheries and loss of significant recreational values are the major reasons for this AOC designation. These problems are mainly caused by high amounts of soil erosion, excessive nutrients (e.g., phosphorus and nitrogen) entering the water, and contaminated sediments. Saginaw Bay priorities include remediation of PCB contaminated sediment, nonpoint pollution control, wetland restoration, and habitat restoration.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

For information and details on all of the Saginaw River/Bay beneficial use impairments (BUI), see the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) documents listed in Significant RAP Milestones.

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Delisting Targets

In 2000, the Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed (the Partnership), now serving as the Saginaw River/Bay Public Advisory Council, worked with Public Sector Consultants, Inc. (PSC) to develop measurable delisting targets for the BUIs. The targets were approved by the Partnership and incorporated into a 2002 Remedial Action Plan (RAP) Update for the AOC. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will be working with the Partnership to evaluate the current delisting criteria for consistency with the statewide restoration criteria that is part of the MDEQ Guidance for Delisting Michigan’s Great Lakes Areas of Concern (PDF) (61pp, 508K) Exit EPA Disclaimer

See Exhibit 2 beginning on page 15 of Targeting Environmental Restoration in the Saginaw River/Bay Area of Concern (AOC): 2001 Remedial Action Plan Update (PDF) (88pp, 677K) Exit EPA Disclaimer for a table providing descriptions of the BUIs and indicators for recovery that were developed in Measures of Success: Addressing Environmental Impairments in the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay (PDF) (56pp, 358K) Exit EPA Disclaimer

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RAP Development and Status

The Saginaw River/Bay RAP process began in July 1986. After several drafts, the initial RAP document was completed in September 1988. Substantial progress has been made since then, with over two-thirds of the actions identified in the 1988 RAP having been implemented. The Saginaw River/Bay RAP document was updated in 1995. In 2000, the Measures of Success report was completed by PSC. The report provided the foundation for redirecting and refocusing management efforts, and recommended a list of targeted conditions that should be viewed as steps toward delisting the Saginaw Bay/River AOC. The recommendations and the specific delisting targets were incorporated into the 2002 RAP Update, Targeting Environmental Restoration in the Saginaw River/Bay Area of Concern.

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Significant RAP Milestones

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RAP Implementation

Recent progress and achievements

Current projects and outlook

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RAP-Related Publications

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Community Involvement

Numerous activities continue to be implemented by local groups. Spearheading these activities is the Partnership, a voluntary, membership-based coalition of public and non-governmental agencies, organizations, and individuals committed to sustaining or restoring the ecology of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. The Partnership promotes comprehensive resource management and educational services by facilitating inter-governmental coordination and public involvement, formulating public policy recommendations, and undertaking various programs and projects to restore, protect and enhance Michigan's largest watershed. In addition, the Partnership is revitalizing membership to develop a strategic plan for achieving goals in the Saginaw River/Bay AOC.

The Saginaw Bay WINExit EPA Disclaimer is a community-based, voluntary initiative that connects people, resources, organizations, and programs. WIN works to improve the quality of life in the area by developing projects, supporting related organizations, and developing the region’s identity as a sustainable community. WIN’s emphasis is on supporting local projects that link economic, environmental and community goals. A key part of WIN’s mission is to increase communication between existing efforts and to provide appropriate support to help address local priorities that provide regional benefits.

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Photos

Dredging activity within the Saginaw River

Dredging activity within the Saginaw River.

Students on the Saginaw River learning about the importance of water quality monitoring

Students on the Saginaw River learning about the importance of water quality monitoring.

Saginaw Bay beaches provide coastal habitat for fish and wildlife, as well as recreational access

Saginaw Bay beaches provide coastal habitat for fish and wildlife, as well as recreational access.

This photograph depicts both undeveloped coastal wetland (foreground and industry (background) in the Saginaw River/Bay AoC

This photograph depicts both undeveloped coastal wetland (foreground) and industry (background) in the Saginaw River/Bay AOC.

Tobico Marsh provides valuable coastal wetlands that plays a significant role in providing fish and wildlife habitat in the Saginaw River/Bay AoC

Tobico Marsh provides valuable coastal wetlands that play a significant role in providing fish and wildlife habitat in the Saginaw River/Bay AOC.

Tobcio Marsh

Tobico Marsh provides valuable coastal wetlands that play a significant role in providing fish and wildlife habitat in the Saginaw River/Bay AOC.

View of the Saginaw River and its riverwalk - home to a host of recreational opportunities

View of the Saginaw River and its riverwalk - home to a host of recreational opportunities.

This aerial photograph depicts a massive plume of sediment that emanates from the mouth of the Saginaw River and traverses through Saginaw Bay

This aerial photograph depicts a massive plume of sediment that emanates from the mouth of the Saginaw River and traverses through Saginaw Bay.


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