DOINews: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners with State of Indiana and US EPA to Restore the Grand Calumet River

Last edited 09/29/2021

Great egret (Ardea alba)
Great egret (Ardea alba) using a section of the West Branch of the Grand Calumet River in Hammond, IN. after remediation of contaminated sediments and restoration. FWS photo.

The first phase of the restoration of the West Branch of the Grand Calumet River is complete with the support of $11.6 million from the Natural Resource Trustees. Natural resource damage assessment and restoration (NRDAR) settlement funds were provided as the local cost share to facilitate the use of $21.5 million of Great Lakes Legacy Act funding. The $33 million project has been undertaken to remove and cap heavily contaminated sediment (mud) along a stretch of the river in Hammond, Ind. Native grasses, flowers, trees and shrubs have also been planted along riverbanks and upland areas to restore the river shoreline.

The Trustees are comprised of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Through NRDAR, trustee agencies assess the injury or harm to natural resources entrusted to them. Legal settlements are negotiated or other legal actions are taken against the responsible parties for the spill or release of contaminated materials. Funds from these settlements are then used to restore the injured resources.

The Great Lakes Legacy Act provides federal money that along with local matching dollars are used to clean up polluted sediment along the shores and waterways of the Great Lakes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administers the funding for the Legacy Act. Over the decades, a number of factories, refineries, and other manufacturing facilities have released oil and pollutants into the Grand Calumet River. The river originates in the east end of Gary, Ind., and flows 13 miles through the cities of Gary, East Chicago and Hammond, Ind. This is a very unique region. It is one of the most industrialized areas in the country as well as home to some of the most diverse native plant and animal communities in the Great Lakes Basin.

The West Branch of the Grand Calumet River work calls for the removal of about 92,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment along a one-mile stretch of the river. The removal of the sediment will be followed by the placement of a cap over the dredged area. The sediment contains pollutants such as PCBs and PAHs (polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), heavy metals, and pesticides.

Upland restoration activities near the Grand Calumet River have been under way for many years, including protection and restoration of rare habitats such as dune and swale and native prairies. The project area is part of a larger Chicago/Northwest Indiana Corridor where a restoration plan is in place. The sediment cleanup and shoreline restoration will complement the habitat restoration efforts.

More information about the Great Lakes Legacy Act and this cleanup is available at

Grand Calumet River Restoration Fund Council:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Link to Press Release:!OpenDocument

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