Cleaning Our Waterways – Sediment Removal

Great Lakes Legacy Act Contaminated Sediment Project

Sediment Removal Overview: Over 12 miles of the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers will be cleaned up to protect our drinking water, lead to healthier fish and wildlife, and improve recreational opportunities.  Years of heavy industrial use have polluted our waterways. Toxic chemicals and heavy metals have sunk to the bottom of our rivers, contaminating the sediment at the bottom. Removing this toxic sludge from the bottom of the river will make our waterways better for humans, wildlife, and the environment now and for future generations.

The Sediment Work will happen in multiple projects some of which are:


Recommended Alternatives for Cleaning Up Contaminated Sediment and Floodplain Areas Have Been Developed

For the past 3 years EPA and project partners have been conducting comprehensive evaluations and assessments, known as a Focused Feasibility Study (FFS), of sediment contamination in Milwaukee’s waterways. The project areas or reaches include the Milwaukee River Floodplains, Milwaukee River Downtown, the South Menomonee Canal (SMC), the Kinnickinnic River (KK), and the outer harbor areas or Milwaukee Bay project area. The purpose of the study was to 1) determine the nature and extent of sediment contamination; 2)  evaluate ways to address that contamination; 3) study the effectiveness of different proposed actions.  As part of this work, Recommended Alternatives for the areas with remaining sediment contamination have been developed – these are the recommended options for how the cleanup will be completed.  

Draft Focused Feasibility Study reports will be available on this site soon for public review and comment.  The reports present the Recommended Alternatives which include areas to be dredged, capped and where habitat restoration will be performed. A Recommended Alternatives Summary will also be provided here soon.

Partner Lead: US EPA GLNPO, DNR, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County Parks, MMSD, We Energies

Status: Planning and Design

Outcome: Cleaned Up Waterways and Restored Ecosystems

More Information: Sediment Cleanup Factsheet, Sediment Cleanup FAQ’s, Sediment Sampling Factsheet