Cleanup improves health of Upper Peninsula’s Menominee River

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Bridge over Menominee River

July 16, 2018

Aerial photo of lower Menominee River

Menominee River cleanup improves health of fish and environment

Staff from the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes anticipate that fish and environmental health in the Upper Peninsula’s Menominee River will improve over time as the river recovers following a cleanup effort.

Partners from local communities, the OGL, Wisconsin DNR and federal Environmental Protection Agency worked together on the river cleanup. They are also improving habitat, growing opportunities for fishing and outdoor recreation. 

Sources of pollutants were controlled by improvements to industry practices and the removal of contaminated sediments. Funding for the work came from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

At this time, advisories regarding quantities and species of fish remain and are updated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Properly cleaned and cooked pan fish are considered best choices for eating. 

A backhoe operator dredges contaminated sediments out of the river

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and eastern Wisconsin meet at the Menominee River, which flows into Lake Michigan’s Green Bay. Environmental impacts from historic pollution earned the lower three miles of the river an “Area of Concern” designation under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Negative effects from coal tar, paint sludge, and arsenic impacted communities with impairments like fish consumption advisories, labeled “Beneficial Use Impairments” (BUIs).

“Restoration makes an incredible difference for Great Lakes communities. Together, we’re achieving the goal of swimmable, fishable, drinkable waters that everyone can enjoy,” said Office of the Great Lakes Director Jon W. Allan.

This accomplishment is Michigan’s 48th BUI removal from an original 111. Office of the Great Lakes staff expect the Lower Menominee River’s two remaining impairment designations, fish and wildlife habitat and populations, to be lifted soon.

Learn about work to protect, restore and sustain Michigan’s waters from the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes online. Contact Rachel Coale or Stephanie Swart with questions.

The Office of the Great Lakes works in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

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