Listing Guideline

When contaminants in sediments exceed standards, criteria, or guidelines such that there are restrictions on dredging or disposal activities.

Delisting Guideline

When contaminants in sediments do not exceed standards, criteria, or guidelines such that there are restrictions on dredging or disposal activities.

Delisting Targets

Removal of this BUI can occur when: 

  • Contaminated sediment hotspots within and upstream from the AOC have been identified.
  • Implementation actions to remediate contaminated sites have been completed.  As a source control measure and for AOC remediation, known contaminated sites must be addressed before BUI removal is possible.
  • There are no special handling requirements of material from routine navigational dredging due to contamination originating from controllable sources within the AOC.

Sources of Pollution or Problem

  • Contaminated sediments; spills of chemicals within the watershed; atmospheric deposition
  • Sediment, nutrients, and bacteria as a result of nonpoint, or diffuse, sources of pollution; urban stormwater runoff; sewer overflows; noncontact cooling water

Remediation Actions

The following dredging related actions were completed in the last year:

  • Dredging was completed for Phase 2 of the Lincoln Park/Milwaukee River Channels Great Lakes Legacy Act project in 2015. This was the last in a set of three projects to address PCB-laden sediment in the Lincoln Park area of the Milwaukee River.
  • Miller Compressing has continued planning for the Burnham Canal Superfund site.
  • Mercury Marine has continued planning for the Cedar Creek Superfund Alternative site. Thissite has PCB-contaminated sediment and needs to be remediated for BUI removal to occur.2015 Remedial Action Plan Update for the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern
  • There is interest in pursuing a Legacy Act betterment project in the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers and Inner Harbor. Figure 2 shows the status of contaminated sediment projects in the AOC.
  • Sediment assessment was completed for the Menomonee River from the Little Menomonee River to the confluence with the Milwaukee River. Characterization of the sediments in the Turning Basin was completed.

Moving Forward

Remediation of contaminated sediment is necessary before this BUI can be removed. For contaminated sediment cleanups, when possible upstream sources/sites should be addressed before addressing sites further downstream; however, anytime opportunities present themselves to address contamination, they should be taken, even if a downstream site is cleaned up ahead of a site further upstream. The following actions need to be completed in order to determine contamination related management actions.

  • Assess areas on the Milwaukee River from Estabrook Park dam downstream to the estuary.
  • Assess the potential impacts to sediments from other manufactured gas plants within the AOC.
  • Review and act upon sediment assessment data from other areas of the AOC. This includes, but is not limited to, Kinnickinnic River/Turning Basin, Menomonee River from confluence with Little Menomonee to the harbor and existing Milwaukee River data. The following management actions are necessary to move towards removing this impairment. This list is not complete. The actions that have been implemented are italicized.

1) Sources of contamination to the benthic community within the AOC need to be remediated.

  • Complete the assessment and cleanup of PCBs at the Cedar Creek Superfund Alternative Site.
  • Complete the management of sediments containing PAHs and metals from the Burnham Canal Superfund Alternative Site.
  • Complete the assessment of contaminated sediment and evaluate and implement clean up related to the Solvay Coke Superfund Alternatives Site.
  • Blatz Pavilion, Lincoln Park Phase 1 and Phase 2 Contaminated Sediment Remediation
  • Kinnickinnic River Legacy Act Cleanup


The main barrier to progress is ensuring enough funding through programs or responsible parties to complete all the contaminated sediment projects (both assessment and remediation) in a timely manner.

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Photo courtesy of Great Lakes Mud