Dredging, habitat restoration complete on Sheboygan River

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SHEBOYGAN (WITI) —  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday, June 14th the completion of all dredging and habitat restoration projects required to remove the Sheboygan River “Area of Concern” from a list of toxic hot spots identified in the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Over $80 million has been spent to dredge contaminated sediment and restore habitat in the Sheboygan River Area of Concern.  The cleanup work was funded largely through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and by responsible parties through the EPA Superfund program.  The State of Wisconsin, the City of Sheboygan and Sheboygan County contributed approximately $5 million to the final phase of the river cleanup.

During the past year, almost 400,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment were removed from the Sheboygan River between Kiwanis Park and Lake Michigan.  Three EPA-funded habitat projects were completed to restore the shoreline at Kiwanis Park, on Wildwood Island, and near the intersection of Taylor Drive and Indiana Avenue in Sheboygan.

“The City of Sheboygan would like to recognize and thank U.S. EPA, the Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources and Transportation and Sheboygan County for their partnership and cooperation on the Sheboygan River dredging and restoration,” said Mayor Michael Vandersteen.  “This was truly an example of inter-governmental collaboration at its best. The citizens of Sheboygan will benefit from this effort.”

Of the 43 AOCs identified by the United States and Canada, only two on the U.S. side of the border have been “delisted.”  The Sheboygan River AOC is one of nine Areas of Concern targeted for cleanup in 2013 and 2014 using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding.  The Sheboygan River AOC is the first of these Areas of Concern to be completed. GLRI funds are also being used to accelerate cleanup work in the remaining AOCs.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was proposed by President Obama at the start of his first term.  For more information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, visit http://www.glri.us/.  For more information about the Sheboygan River AOC, visit www.epa.gov/greatlakes/aoc/sheboygan/.