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News Releases from Region 05

EPA Awards $120,000 to Illinois for Project in Waukegan Harbor

Contact Information: 
Allison Nowotarski (

For Immediate Release: No. 16-OPA074

CHICAGO -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $120,000 grant to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) for a project to assess the health of the Waukegan Harbor Area of Concern on Lake Michigan. Waukegan Harbor is one of 43 contaminated sites on the Great Lakes which was designated as an ‘Area of Concern’ (AOC) by the United States and Canada under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. 

“This grant will assist the efforts of local partners to improve environmental conditions and health for the 30 million Americans who live and work in the Great Lakes region,” said EPA Administrator Pruitt. “EPA is working closely with state and local partners to advance our shared goal to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.”

IDNR will use EPA’s funding to partner with the University of Illinois to assess populations of phytoplankton and zooplankton at Waukegan Harbor and North Point Marina. Plankton communities are an indicator of water quality and will help determine when Waukegan Harbor has recovered sufficiently to be removed from the binational list of AOCs.

“This funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is critical to bringing Waukegan Harbor one step closer to delisting as an Area of Concern,” said Diane Tecic, coastal management program director at IDNR. “We hope that the sampling and analysis of these micro-organisms will show that the cleanup has been successful, and the aquatic community is returning to normal.”

The Waukegan Harbor cleanup was completed in 2014 after more than 20 years of federal, state and local efforts. EPA, the State of Illinois and parties responsible for contaminating the harbor spent $150 million to remove or cap PCB-contaminated sediment, clean up the Outboard Marine Superfund Site and restore habitat in the AOC. EPA continues to monitor the recovery at this site. The work was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, EPA’s Superfund program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The city of Waukegan also worked with federal and state agencies to eliminate combined sewer overflows, improve beaches and create valuable dune and swale habitat. EPA continues to monitor the progress of the ongoing recovery at this AOC.

For more information about the Waukegan Harbor AOC, visit: