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 Natural Resource Trustees for the Saginaw River and Bay finalized their Restoration Plan for the use of funds remaining from the 1998 Settlement in May of 2021. Approximately $5.0 M is being used for implementation of projects described in the Restoration Plan; $750,000 has been set aside to fund restoration project ideas identified by stakeholders in the Saginaw River and Bay area.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in the process of updating webpages, so some content that was previously available is temporarily unavailable. Please contact Clark McCreedy for additional information.