St. Marys River RAP Milestones

1987 St. Marys River was identified as an Area of Concern (AOC) under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

1988 The Bi-National Public Advisory Council (BPAC) was formed – a stakeholder group with members from Canada and the United States that represents a variety of interests around the river.

1991 – The commissioning of a main filtration plant for wastewater discharged from Algoma Steel Inc.* that led to improved wastewater quality.

1992 – The first stage of the RAP for St. Marys River was completed. Federal and provincial government agencies worked with BPAC to identify specific environmental issues in the St. Marys River.

1995 – St. Marys Paper Ltd. installed an activated sludge secondary treatment facility that led to improved wastewater quality.

1997 – The St. Marys River Fisheries Task Group was established by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to coordinate fisheries assessment among Canadian and U.S. agencies.

1997 – 1999 – Algoma Steel Inc.* invests heavily in new water technology to reduce phenol concentrations in waste-water and optimize water re-use by up to 90% (e.g., new biological treatment facility to treat Cokemaking wastewater, new direct casting facility, toxicity control system on the Bar and Strip process effluent, and water recirculation system on Ironmaking Blast Furnace water facilities).

2002 – In partnership with the BPAC, the RAP Team completed the Stage 2 Report which recommended remedial actions to address the environmental challenges within the AOC.

2003 –The City of Sault Ste. Marie (ON) constructed a sanitary sewer overflow tank at Bellevue Park to address infiltration and high-flow events.

2006 – Sault Ste. Marie’s (ON) East End Wastewater Treatment Plant was upgraded to secondary treatment using the first Biological Nutrient Removal system in Ontario, which uses organic material instead of chemicals to reduce contaminants in wastewater.

2007 – Clean-up of the Tannery Bay Great Lakes Legacy Act site is completed, helping to remove mercury and chromium from the river sediment.

2009 – Sault Ste. Marie (ON) launched an investigative study to identify ways to improve stormwater runoff and minimize the input of contaminants to the river.

2010 – The Sugar Island Monitoring Work Group released the last of three reports that confirmed episodes of floating solids and bacteria (E. coli) were due to natural causes and stormwater outfalls on both sides of the river.

2010 – Clean-up at Consumers Energy Manufactured Gas Plant site as part of the Great Lakes Legacy Act and 26,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment is removed.

2011 – The City establishes a stormwater master plan and policy to improve the quality and quantity of stormwater runoff around the community to minimize the input of contaminants to the river.

2013 – The RAP Implementation Annex is completed, which outlines the priority actions going forward to complete the AOC’s restoration.

2013 – 2015 – Water quality study by Algoma University on physical and chemical parameters show aesthetics and eutrophication/algae are not impaired (ON).

2015 – City of Sault Ste. Marie (ON) established new Storm Water Management Master Plan and Guidelines.

2011 – 2016 – Beach closings BUI assessment show water quality and state of public beaches along the river are comparable to outside the AOC, and are not impaired (ON).

2017 – Little Rapids Restoration Project completed!  Re-established flow to the rapids for the first time in more than 50 years.

2018 – The Sault Ste. Marie (MI) combined sewer system is separated.

2019 – The Conceptual Site Model (CSM) for the St. Marys River Contaminated Sediments is updated.

What's Next?

  • Undertake priority actions outlined in the RAP Implementation Annex to continue the environmental restoration of the St. Marys River.
  • Develop a sediment management strategy for priority areas in the St. Marys River.
  • Develop and implement a monitoring plan to track the remaining environmental issues in the St. Marys River.