How does the St. Clair River as a natural boundary and legal border influence remediation efforts?
Imagine over 60 chemical plants and oil refineries confined to a 15 square mile area, operating 24/7, right along a river’s edge with little regulation on what can be put into the air or dumped in the water. This is just one part of what the St. Clair River has faced since the beginning of its destruction. After 400 years of ecosystem flux, multicultural land ownerships, and the rising awareness of public health issues, the St. Clair River - connecting Lake Huron and Lake Erie - became an Area of Concern (AOC). The United States and Canada, through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1972, assumed joint responsibility to remediate the river. This Agreement and its amendments designated 43 locations as AOCs. The St. Clair River is one of just five binational AOCs. Currently eight out of ten Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs), which are the measurements used to quantify progress of restoration, assigned to this river, have been removed. Clearly, successful efforts have been made across borders to revive the river’s health. This case study poses the question - how does the river as a natural boundary and subsequently a legal border influence both the degradation and remediation of the river?