The US and Canada originally designated 42 Areas of Concern across the Great Lakes basin, including six areas in NY, as being environmentally degraded to the extent that there is significant impairment of beneficial uses, under Annex 1 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). Examples of beneficial use impairments include restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, beach closings, and loss of fish and wildlife habitat (a full list is below). These Areas of Concern, or AOCs, are given special priority for ecological restoration. Areas of Concern (AOC) are geographic areas around the Great Lakes that are environmentally degraded. In 1987, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement designated 43 AOCs as a way to focus restoration work on these areas. Of the 43 AOCs, 26 are in the U.S., 12 are in Canada, and 5 are shared by both countries.
In 2006, the Oswego River became the first U.S. AOC to be considered restored and was formally delisted. NYSDEC and partners work to restore uses for the following areas: