The Binational Public Advisory Council along with representatives of the Canadian RAP Implementation Committee for the St. Clair River Area of Concern (AOC) are proud to announce the re-designation of the “Fish Tumours and Other Deformities” beneficial use to “not impaired” for the river. This recommendation was accepted by the federal and provincial governments in June 2021, marking another milestone in the advancement of the St. Clair River Remedial Action Plan.
In 1987, 43 Areas of Concern were identified in the Great Lakes Basin as data and field studies indicated that water quality and environmental health in these areas were severely degraded. Fourteen common ecological measures, referred to as beneficial use impairments, were identified and used to assess conditions in each of the Areas of Concern, including the St. Clair River. Consequently, a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) was developed to address ecological harm in the aquatic environment and restore the beneficial uses of the St. Clair River. This plan continues to be implemented today.
From 2013-2016, a study was conducted as part of the RAP to determine if cancerous liver tumours were prevalent in brown bullheads, a sediment dwelling fish, within the bays and channels of the Walpole Island delta. This study, conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Walpole Island First Nation, included the collection and analysis of 60 brown bullhead livers. Of the livers analyzed, zero cancerous liver tumours were identified. These results support the recommendation that “Fish Tumours and Other Deformities” beneficial use could be declared “not impaired”.
This marks the seventh re-designation in the St. Clair River Area of Concern since 1991 with five beneficial uses remain to be addressed before the St. Clair River can be removed from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern.
Tipping the scales of progress in the St. Clair River Area of Concern– changes to the status of beneficial uses have changed since 1991.