Sheboygan River cleanup nears completion

Project Summary: Habitat restoration and the dredging of more than 350,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in Wisconsin’s Sheboygan River in 2012 were among the final steps in a long process to clean up the river. Overall, 425,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment has been removed from the river.


Project name: Sheboygan River Cleanup.

Location: Sheboygan, Wis.

The Sheboygan River cleanup. Photo courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Sheboygan River cleanup. Photo courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Description: Historic pollution left PCBs, PAHs and heavy metals in bottom sediments and surface soils along parts of the Sheboygan River in Wisconsin. The contaminants degraded water quality, tainted fish, damaged fish and wildlife habitat and posed public health threats. The contamination, much of which came from the former Tecumseh Product Co. and Camp Marina Manufactured Gas Plant, earned the river a spot on the list of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern and made the river a black eye for the city of Sheboygan. In 2012, the U.S. EPA contributed about $55 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to speed a cleanup of the Sheboygan River AOC . During 2012, crews removed over 425,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and restored fish and wildlife habitat in and along the lower river.

Approximate cost of project: $83 million was spent on the cleanup in 2011 and 2012. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative provided $55 million of that amount.

Resource challenges addressed: Polluted river bottom sediments, contaminated fish and wildlife, fish consumption advisories, degraded fish and wildlife habitat, and threats to human health.

Key partners (public and private): U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, City of Sheboygan, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Department of Transportation and the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Types of jobs created: Dredge operators, heavy equipment operators, general laborers, biologists, engineers, chemists, toxicologists and aquatic ecologists.

Results and accomplishments: Crews dredged 425,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the Sheboygan River and restored over 70 acres of fish and wildlife habitat along a 2.5 mile corridor. The cleanup made the river and harbor cleaner, deeper and bolstered economic development efforts in Sheboygan.

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Originally Published: January 21, 2013