Area of Concern Restoration Work

Many programs and partnerships contribute to the restoration of the Grand Calumet River / Indiana Harbor Ship Canal Area of Concern (AOC). Broadly, the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the AOC consists of three major restoration efforts:

  • Remediation of contaminated sediment:
    • Contractors remove and/or cap contaminated sediment in the AOC waterways to prevent pollutants from entering the aquatic ecosystem.
    • Federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds, backed by a non-federal match, pay for much of this effort.
    • The Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA) provides the authority to operate the effort and provided some of the early (pre-2010) federal funding. The GLLA requires a minimum 35 percent non-federal match to conduct sediment remediation projects.
    • Some private parties have also conducted work as part of an environmental enforcement action.
  • Restoration of fish and wildlife habitat:
    • State and Local land managers attempt to purchase or obtain conservation easements on remnant dune and swale and other ecologically valuable lands.
    • Contractors and land managers treat unwanted invasive species through herbicide application and prescribed burns.
    • Land managers may also oversee the planting of native plants in cleared areas.
    • Federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds pay for much of this invasive species treatment effort.
  • Reduction of E. coli contamination at AOC beaches:
    • Federal, state, and local groups coordinate efforts to reduce E. coli contamination of near-shore waters.
    • The United States Army Corps of Engineers and Michigan State University are studying how best to improve water flowat Jeorse Park beach in an effort to reduce, E. coli buildup.
    • IDEM has contracted with a company to reduce bird loafing and scavenging at AOC beaches.
    • Federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds pay for much of this effort.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Restoration Projects

The passage of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) by Congress in 2010 initiated several other significant steps in the remediation of the Grand Calumet River Area of Concern (AOC). The GLRI has provided millions of dollars in aid to the Great Lakes, with specific support for the restoration of Areas of Concern.

Through GLRI funding, over 900 acres of habitat restoration is taking place in the Grand Calumet River AOC, which will provide dune and swale habitat for many species, including Karner blue butterfly, Blanding’s turtle, spotted turtle, and various migratory birds.

Habitat Restoration Planning

In February and March of 2014, the IDEM Remedial Action Plan coordinator met with the multiple land-managing organizations of the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor Ship Canal AOC to develop a list of the habitat sites and document additional restoration needs at those sites. The product of those meetings was the 2014 Grand Calumet River Area of Concern Habitat Report [PDF].