Beneficial Use Impairment: EPA reaches important milestone

The U.S. EPA has announced the removal of the 100th Beneficial Use Impairment from a U.S. Area of Concern (AOC), a historic milestone in restoring the Great Lakes.

Lorain County Auditor's Office

The accomplishment occurred at the Black River AOC near Lorain, Ohio – one of the 43 AOCs identified by the United States and Canada in the mid-1980s as the most environmentally degraded areas in the Great Lakes ecosystem.

“This milestone once again makes clear that this agency and the GLRI has been successful because of the well-coordinated and productive working relationships between EPA and its federal, state, tribal, local and non-governmental partners,” said Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager, Kurt Thiede. 

“By continuing to work together, we have been able to overcome some of the challenges facing the Great Lakes, and I know the pride our folks here take in these efforts will ensure continued success in addressing these challenges in the years ahead.”

At the Black River AOC, EPA removed the degradation of aesthetics beneficial use impairment that was caused by environmental issues dating back decades, including upland erosion, mill dams, stream channelization and modifications, etc.

“I applaud the EPA for removing a Beneficial Use Impairment in the Black River near Lorain, Ohio, which feeds into Lake Erie,” said Sen. Rob Portman. “This marks the 100th Beneficial Use Impairment that the EPA has removed from a U.S. Area of Concern. Protecting and preserving our Great Lakes is one of my top priorities in the Senate, and this is an important milestone in our efforts to achieve that goal.”

Beneficial use impairments (BUIs) are specific types of environmental degradation identified at AOCs. There are 14 types of BUIs, including: restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption; beach closings; degradation of aesthetics; restrictions on dredging; and loss of fish and wildlife habitat.

BUIs are removed after environmental restoration within the AOC and subsequent testing shows that the criteria for removing a BUI have been met and that the beneficial use has been restored.