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Great Lakes AOCs

About the Grand Calumet River AOC

Grand Calumet River AOC Boundary MapPrintable boundary map and shapefile of Grand Calumet River AOC The Grand Calumet River was named an Area of Concern under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1987.   All 14 beneficial uses were determined to be impaired.  $288 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative's Great Lakes Legacy Act program has been used to remediate and restore this AOC. 

AOC Boundaries

The Grand Calumet River, originating in the east end of Gary, Indiana, flows 13 miles through the heavily industrialized cities of Gary, East Chicago and Hammond, including:

  • The east branch of the river
  • A small segment of the west branch
  • The bottom of the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal
  • Ilinois/Indiana state line

Sources of Pollution

The largest extent of the impairment to the AOC comes from legacy pollutants found in the sediments at the bottom of the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal. Contaminants include PCBs, PAHs and heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, chromium and lead. High fecal coliform bacteria levels, biochemical oxygen demand, suspended solids, and oil and grease create additional problems.

The highly degraded area contained:
  • contaminated sediments
  • industrial waste site runoff
  • Superfund sites
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act hazardous waste sites
  • underground storage tanks
  • atmospheric deposition
  • urban runoff
  • contaminated groundwater

Beneficial Use Impairments

Beneficial Use Impairments for the Great Lakes AOCs


Restoring the Grand Calumet River AOC (timeline)

Legacy Act Cleanup of Grand Calumet River


USACE reguarly dredges the Grand Calumet River and plays an integral role in removing contaminated sediment.

USFWS conducted a Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Grand Calumet River. Results of the settlement include funds going towards habitat protection, habitat restoration and dredging.

The following links exit the site Exit

CARE plays an active role in implementing the Remedial Action Plan and consists of subcommittees to direct their focuses to specific BUIs. They also educate the public about the changing status of the Grant Calumet.

Grand Calumet River Restoration Fund Council

GCRRFC primarily works to remove contaminated sediment and remediate the natural resource damages within the AOC. Their main focus is the West Branch of the river.

IDEM carries out a large proportion of restoration and remediation projects within the Area of Concern. They also publish the remedial action plans. In 1991, IDEM opened a regional office in Gary to act as a liaison with local officials, concerned citizen, and industry, including the involvement of concerned citizens through the CARE.

IDNR has contributed to habitat restoration and preservation efforts in the AOC and is a member of the Natural Resource Trustees.

U.S. Steel has dredged over 780,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the AOC.