Listing Guideline

When contaminant levels in fish or wildlife populations exceed current standards, objectives or guidelines, or public health advisories are in effect for human consumption of fish or wildlife. Contaminant levels in fish and wildlife must be due to contaminant input from the watershed.

Delisting Guideline

When contaminant levels in fish and wildlife populations do not exceed current standards, objectives or guidelines, and no public health advisories are in effect for human consumption of fish or wildlife. Contaminant levels in fish and wildlife must not be due to contaminant input from the watershed.

Delisting Targets

Fish - Approach to be used with current level of monitoring for fish consumption advisories within the AOC (every five years):

  • All known man-made sources of BCOCs (including PCBs, mercury, dioxins, and furans) within the AOC and tributary watershed have been controlled or eliminated; and
  • State fish tissue monitoring confirms that waterbody-specific fish consumption advisories are no longer needed for PCBs for waters in the AOC.
  • Waters within the Milwaukee Estuary AOC are not listed as impaired due to fish consumption advisories in the most recent Clean Water Act 303(d) and 305(b) Wisconsin Water Quality Report to Congress (submitted to USEPA every two years).

Approach to be used with funding to support additional monitoring:

  • All known man-made sources BCOCs (including PCBs, mercury, dioxins, and furans) within the AOC and tributary watershed have been controlled or eliminated; and
  • A multi-year comparison study of fish tissue contaminant levels demonstrates that there is no statistically significant difference (with a 95% confidence interval) in fish tissue BCOC concentrations in the AOC compared to fish tissue BCOC concentrations in a representative non-impacted control site within the Lake Michigan Basin.

Wildlife - There are no waterfowl consumption advisories for resident waterfowl due to contamination originating 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

Because contaminated sediments are the primary contributor of contaminants to fish within the AOC, contaminated sediment cleanups (especially for PCBs) are necessary in making progress toward addressing this impairment. 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. This site has PCB-contaminated sediment and needs to be remediated for BUI removal to occur.
  • 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.

WDNR received Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding to collect data to reassess the status of the waterfowl consumption advisories, determine if any of the existing advisories can be removed or if any additional advisories are warranted. Sample collection will continue in 2016. Preliminary results indicate some type of consumption advisory will remain in place. However, as all data have not been received and analyzed, no change is currently proposed. WDNR Fisheries Management samples waterbodies every 5 years in order to assess consumption advisories. The Milwaukee River and Cedar Creek are due for resampling in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Moving Forward

Areas of the AOC contaminated with PCBs or other bioaccumulative chemicals of concern (BCOCs) need assessment and remediation. Consumption advisories for fish and wildlife need to be reassessed until it is determined the delisting targets are met.

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 (completion depends on the assessment and data review activities listed above). The actions that have been implemented are italicized.

  • 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

Issues

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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