About the 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.
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.
- 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
- Restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption
- EutrophicationEutrophicationThe normally slow aging process by which a lake evolves into a bog or marsh and ultimately assumes a completely terrestrial state and disappears. During eutrophication the lake becomes so rich in nutritive compounds, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, that algae and other microscopic plant life become superabundant, thereby "choking" the lade, and causing it eventually to dry up. Eutrophication may be accelerated by human activities. or undesirable algae
- Harming of fish and wildlife flavor
- Restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste and odor REMOVED 2012
- Degradation of fish and wildlife populations
- Beach closings
- Fish tumors or other deformities
- Degradation of aesthetics
- Bird or animal deformities or reproduction problems
- Added costs to agriculture or industry REMOVED 2011
- Degradation of benthos
- Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations
- Restriction on dredging activities
- Loss of fish and wildlife habitat
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.
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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.
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.