Sheboygan–(ENEWSPF)–August 15, 2010. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Sheboygan area officials joined forces today to kick off the final dredging work and habitat restoration projects needed to remove the Sheboygan River “Area of Concern” from a list of toxic hot spots identified in the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. EPA has targeted up to $57 million for work in the Sheboygan River AOC, which is on Lake Michigan. The State of Wisconsin, the City of Sheboygan and Sheboygan County are contributing $5 million to the final phase of the clean up.
“By the end of the year, we will complete all of the work needed to ‘delist’ the Sheboygan River AOC,” said Susan Hedman, U.S. EPA Region 5 Administrator and Great Lakes National Program Manager. “Thanks to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and our dedicated local, state and federal partners, we are finally getting the most contaminated sites on the Great Lakes cleaned up.”
The Sheboygan River is one of 39 remaining AOCs on the Great Lakes. Since the United States and Canada identified the list of AOCs in 1987, only one on the U.S. side has been “delisted.” The Sheboygan River is one of four AOCs that EPA has targeted to complete cleanup work in 2012. Five more AOCs are targeted for completion in 2013 and 2014.
“After almost 30 years, having the Sheboygan River cleaner and deeper will add significant benefits both recreationaly and financially to our local economy that already provides almost a $9 million waterfront economic impact,” said Mayor Terry Van Akkeren.
One EPA dredging project will remove contaminated sediment from the river between Kiwanis Park and the 8th Street Bridge. The other project with remove contaminated sediment from the bridge to the mouth of the river on Lake Michigan. Three EPA-funded habitat projects will begin this month to restore the shorelines at Kiwanis Park, on Wildwood Island, and near the intersection of Taylor Drive and Indiana Avenue.
“After nearly three decades of being a black eye of the community, we are thrilled that the Sheboygan River and Harbor is being restored to reduce health risks to people, fish and wildlife, and will greatly enhance opportunities for economic development,” said Adam Payne, Sheboygan County Administrator. “Sheboygan County is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the EPA, DNR, City of Sheboygan and many other public and private stakeholders to leverage the necessary resources to finally clean up and dredge the Sheboygan River and Harbor. I’m proud to be a part of the team, and our collective efforts will bear fruit for generations to come.”
In February 2009, President Obama proposed the GLRI, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. GLRI funds are being used to accelerate cleanup work in the remaining AOCs identified by the U.S. and Canada in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement during the 1980s.
For more information, visit www.epa.gov/greatlakes /aoc/sheboygan/