St Marys River

Historic photo of St. Mary River ~ Courtesy of IJC

The St. Marys River is a 112 km connecting channel between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.  The Area of Concern (AOC) extends from the head of the river at Whitefish Bay (Point Iroquois – Gros Cap), downstream through the St. Joseph Channel to Humburg Point on the Ontario side, and to the straits of Detour on the Michigan side.  Impairment of the water quality, sediment, and biota remain due to historical point and non-point discharges from a variety of sources including Essar Algoma Steel, two Ontario sewage treatment plants, combined sewage overflows, and St. Marys Paper.  Contaminants of concern include oils and greases, suspended solids, phenols, DHAs, PAHs, ammonia, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, cyanide, mercury, lead and bacteria.

Priorities for the St. Marys River AOC include restoration of urban tributaries on both sides of the border, cleanup of the Cannelton Tannery Superfund site, sea lamprey control, elimination of combined sewer overflows, and a strategy for contaminated sediments.  Once the Cannelton site is remediated, the site may support light industry, residential homes, and park areas.  The sea lamprey control efforts will help restore impaired fisheries in the St. Marys River as well as northern Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.  Combined sewer separation in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Ontario has already reduced overflows of sewage to the St. Marys River.  Industrial treatment facilities on the Ontario side have also made great progress to improve wastewater discharges.  Finalization and implementation of a sediment management plan will help to identify and prioritize sediment cleanup sites within the St. Marys AOC.

The St. Marys River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) was initiated in 1988 as a cooperative venture between Canadian and the United States Governments.  The RAP involves collaboration between various State, Provincial and Federal Government organizations, with support from the Bi-National Public Advisory Council (BPAC).  Working together with conservation authorities, municipalities, Aboriginal communities, environmental groups, industry, special interest groups, and others the RAP team continually moves forward with further development and implementation of the plan.

Access further information about the St. Marys River Area of Concern for any one of the following locations:

Site 1(A link to internal pages within the Lake Superior Binational Forum website about the St. Marys River AOC)
Site 2
(A link to the St. Marys River Bi-National Public Advisory Council website)
Site 3
(A link to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency site about the St. Marys River AOC)
Site 4
(A link to the Environment Canada site about the St. Marys River AOC)