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Kinnickinnic River cleanup means a revitalized Milwaukee neighborhood

Release Date: 11/02/2009
Contact Information: Karen Thompson 312-353-8547,

For Immediate Release

(Milwaukee, Wis. - November 2, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the City of Milwaukee and other partners have taken another step today toward protecting the Great Lakes, the Milwaukee community and the local economy. The $22 million Kinnickinnic River Legacy Act cleanup sets the course for a more navigable river, redeveloped businesses and a revitalized riverfront for the surrounding neighborhood.

Over the past four months federal, state and local agencies have worked together to remove 167,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the river between Becher Street and Kinnickinnic Avenue. A former brownfields site next to the river has sprouted a boater’s lounge in a newly refurbished office building, a microbrewery, additional boat slips, moorings and fisherman wharves, riverwalks and a boat launch ramp.

The river was cleaned up using $14.3 million from the Great Lakes Legacy Act fund and $7.7 million from a state of Wisconsin bond fund under Governor Doyle’s “Grow Milwaukee” initiative. The project began took place between June 3, 2009, and October 3, 2009. Dredging ended ahead of schedule.

"Today marks the beginning of enhanced recreational opportunities and economic revitalization along the KK,” Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said. “This project not only improves, protects and preserves one of our state’s greatest natural resources, but will also bolster the local economy and create jobs for hardworking Wisconsin families.”

The cleanup removed about 1,200 lbs. of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and 13,000 lbs. of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (a byproduct of petroleum) that were contaminating the river. The dredged material was transported by barge and disposed in a special cell within the Milwaukee Area Confined Disposal Facility at Jones Island, owned by the City of Milwaukee and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The City of Milwaukee is grateful for the many partnerships that have made this project a success,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “Milwaukee’s economy and quality of life are directly linked to the health of Lake Michigan and its tributaries.”

The Great Lakes Legacy Act was signed into law in November 2002 to cleanup contaminated sediment at areas of concern -- severely degraded sites where there is significant pollution -- around the Great Lakes.

“Ridding the Great Lakes of contaminated sediment to protect the health of our families and communities is a battle we need to fight site- by- site,” said Cameron Davis EPA Senior Advisor to the Administrator.

Since 2004, EPA has completed six Legacy Act cleanups to date removing over 1.6 million pounds of contaminants from Great Lakes waterways, reducing risks to human health and wildlife at a cost of almost $119 million. Sixty-eight million in Legacy Act funds have leveraged $51 million in on-federal dollars from state, local, and private partners.

More information about the Kinnickinnic River cleanup and the Great Lakes Legacy Act is available at:

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