EAST CHICAGO | The East Chicago Waterway Management District is moving forward with plans to remove contaminated sediment from the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal.
The district's board of directors recently approved an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for engineering work to determine the most effective and environmentally efficient way to clean up parts of the river and canal the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not already plan to dredge.
An investigation, feasibility study and design work are expected to take two years to complete at a cost of $2 million.
"This part is all the presteps to the dredging," said Fernando Trevino, executive director for the Waterway Management District.
The board submitted an application in June to receive Great Lakes Legacy Act funding.
"In entering into this agreement, we will be responsible for 35 percent of the local match cost for this work," Waterway Management Board President John Fekete said.
Trevino said the $700,000 the district must provide with will come from user fees collected from landowners along the canal and river. The remainder will come from federal funds.
Trevino called the agreement with the EPA an exciting step for East Chicago and all of Northwest Indiana.
"Hopefully, in our lifetime this whole river will be clean, this canal will be clean," he said. "So if people want to, say, have a recreational business to rent canoes and go up and down, they can do it, because it's gonna be clean water."
A news release from the Waterway Management District said that past sediment testing in the river and canal has detected contaminants such as ammonia, arsenic, cyanide, E. coli, polychlorinated biphenyls, oil, grease, lead and pesticides that accumulated as a result of industrial and municipal discharges.