Last updated: June 24, 2014
Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Saginaw Bay and River
Beginning in the 1940s, industrial facilities and wastewater treatment plants on the Saginaw River, Michigan, released PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and related compounds into the Saginaw River. Because of on-site contamination, releases from the facilities continued after PCBs were banned in the 1970s. These releases also damaged the Saginaw Bay ecosystem.
Saginaw Bay is one of the prime walleye fishing and waterfowl hunting areas in the Great Lakes and also drains into Lake Huron. Contamination has impacted fish and wildlife in the Saginaw River and Bay, resulting in advisories against human consumption of fish for all species of fish in the River and many species of fish in the Bay. Also, bald eagle reproduction is significantly lower in these areas than is found in less contaminated areas.
A co-trustee group consisting of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of Michigan, and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe, performed a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). The co-trustee group reached a negotiated settlement for natural resource damages in 1998 with General Motors Corporation and the cities of Bay City and Saginaw. The settlement is providing for substantial cleanup of river contamination and for protection and restoration of fish and wildlife habitats in the Saginaw River and Bay.
The Consent Judgement for this settlement and instructions on how to obtain it are described in a Federal Register Notice (30 November 1998, Volume 63, Number 229, pages 65812-65813).
The settlement and pending restorations are expected to result in a cleaner and healthier ecosystem for natural resources and people through the removal of PCBs from the Saginaw River. This means fewer PCBs in fish, wildlife and people who eat fish. Meanwhile, fish and wildlife benefit from additional habitat which is being restored and protected. Another benefit of the settlement will be the enhanced recreational opportunities and improved economic possibilities for the area as the stigma of contamination is replaced with the knowledge that the watershed is a cleaner and safer place with rich natural resources for use by the American people.
The links below will allow you to view the Trustees' reports concerning the Saginaw River and Bay Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
Most reports are PDF files.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Links
For more information on NRDA in general, visit: Department of Interior's NRDA Homepage
Measures of Success in the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay, a report from "The Partnership for the Saginaw Bay" on the environmental progress and actions still needed for the watershed.
If you have any questions or comments related to the Saginaw River and Bay NRDA, contact us via email or telephone: