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Agreement Sets $450M for Milwaukee-area Lake Michigan Cleanup | Columbus Ohio Dump Trucks



U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research vessel is docked in Milwaukee, where officials are preparing for a $450-million contaminated sediment cleanup

Photo courtesy of U.S.

October 13, 2023

Officials announced $450 million in funding for a Milwaukee-area remediation project targeting 2 million cu yd of contaminated sediment near Lake Michigan—the largest cleanup yet implemented under a program aimed at protecting and restoring the Great Lakes, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Oct. 11.

The cleanup will target PCBs, petroleum compounds and heavy metals including mercury, lead and chromium in the Milwaukee Estuary "area of concern," which includes the city's inner and outer harbor and nearshore waters of western Lake Michigan plus tributaries such as lower portions of the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic rivers. 

AOC Boundary Map_Milwaukee Estuary2023.jpgThe Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern includes part of Lake Michigan and several tributaries. Map courtesy of EPA

Officials did not say when procurement would begin for the work. 

Twenty-five of 31 original areas of concern on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes still carry the designation, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in announcing the funding, adding that remaining industrial pollution has a disproportionate impact on surrounding low-income communities and communities of color. 

“The Milwaukee estuary has long been identified as one of the most polluted areas in the country,” Regan said. “Cleanup and restoration ... is essential to the health of the surrounding communities, the vitality of Lake Michigan and the strength of local economies.”

The funding includes $275 million from EPA via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, plus more than $170 million from non-federal project sponsors: Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, We Energies, Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources, the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County Parks.

The funding agreement was made through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an EPA program targeting threats to the Great Lakes ecosystem that Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said  has been “wildly successful.”

“Since its inception, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has tripled the successful cleanup efforts and delisting of areas of concern, while reducing the presence of chemicals and compounds and contaminants and restoring wildlife habitat to over 1,000 miles of rivers and waterways,” she said. 

The 2021 funding law includes $1 billion for area of concern cleanups. 

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James leggate
James Leggate is an online news editor at ENR. He has reported on a variety of issues for more than 10 years and his columbus oh dump truck work has contributed to several regional Associated Press Media Editors and Murrow award wins.