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United States progress in remediating contaminated sediments in Great Lakes Areas of Concern

March 2019

M. L. Tuchman, S.E. Cieniawski , J.H. Hartig


Contaminated sediments are a huge problem in the Great Lakes basin and have been the focus of the Great Lakes Water Quality agreement since 1972. The problem still persists today, particularly in places call Areas of Concern (AOCs), however, progress has been made in reducing the amounts of AOCs that exist. The way this has been accomplished is through careful thought put into the size of equipment to do things like dredging, which has kept projects on schedule, as well as productive working relationships between key partners in the project like the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state agencies of states that border a Great Lake, and Canada.

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Policy Implications

The successful sediment cleanups have turned AOCs into waterfront assets that grow economic opportunity through tourism and businesses. In order to continue this success, the EPA must continue to fund and prioritize these clean-up efforts and partnering agencies must continue the effective work as to ensure these AOCs are taken care of. Beyond economic benefits, there are also human health and ecological benefits to reducing the contaminated sediments.

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