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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

Water Quality in Indiana

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Register Now for the 2016 Annual Grand Calumet River AOC Seminar

Grand Calumet River Area of Concern

Registration Now Open For The 2016 Annual Grand Calumet River Area Of Concern Seminar

This year's theme is “Celebrating Successes!” Please join us to learn about the work that has been accomplished and the work that is currently taking place to restore the Grand Calumet River Area of Concern (AOC). We are honored to have U.S. Congressman Peter J. Visclosky as our keynote speaker. Refreshments and light lunch will be served for seminar attendees.

The seminar, scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at the East Chicago Marina's Social Center Room, will begin promptly at 10:00 AM (CDT), and conclude at 3:00 PM (CDT). Attendees are welcome to join us for a walking tour of one of our AOC beaches, East Chicago’s Jeorse Park Beach, following the seminar.

Seating is limited, so please RSVP by Tuesday, October 18.

Restoring One of Lake Michigan’s Most Polluted Waterways: Grand Calumet River/Indiana Harbor Ship Canal Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan

Things are changing for the positive in the Grand Calumet River Area of Concern, the once highly polluted and damaged area is on its way to becoming truly “Grand” again as a recovering riverine habitat. This is due to the great partnerships created by those working to implement the Remedial Action Plan (RAP), with the goal of creating a better environmental future for area residents and wildlife.

A Historically Polluted River:

Prior to strict modern environmental regulations, industries, factories, and municipal sanitary districts would often discharge chemicals and contaminants directly into the Grand Calumet River. Much of this pollution would stick to, or seep in between, the grains of clay, sand, or silt at the river bottom. The build-up of such pollution in the river sediments caused drastic harm to the ecosystem, resulting in the Grand Calumet River being deemed one of the worst quality rivers in the Great Lakes region.

Fixing the Problem:

By the 1980s, new environmental regulations had been developed which changed how municipalities and industries could operate. These changes dramatically reduced the discharge of contaminants into the river. Even with new operational standards, the impacts of prior (legacy) contaminants had already caused great harm to the river, leaving it highly impaired for human and wildlife use.

Due to the Grand Calumet River area’s history of contamination, it was deemed one of 43 “Areas of Concern”, or AOCs, around the Great Lakes by the International Joint Commission in the 1978 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). The GLWQA, which is overseen by the U.S. EPA in the United States, required that each AOC have a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) developed to be the blueprint for the remediation of the 14 designated beneficial use impairments (BUIs) of the waterway.

For Indiana, this meant that IDEM would take the lead in developing the RAP -- with the aid of the Citizens Advisory for the Remediation of the Environment (CARE) Committee, a group of IDEM-designated individuals who provide input into the RAP planning process. The RAP identifies key projects, such as sediment remediation and habitat restoration, needed in the AOC.

Over the past 20 years, IDEM and the CARE Committee have been planning for and implementing projects to remove the BUIs and delist the Grand Calumet River from the list of Great Lakes AOCs. With the help of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Great Lakes Legacy Act, and funding from state and local partners, great progress has been made toward remediating the river and surrounding areas.

Living within the Area of Concern:

Living, working, or recreating within an AOC should not significantly affect one’s day-to-day life; however, it is important to know what the restrictions are on the beneficial uses in your area.

  1. Do not eat fish caught in the AOC without first reviewing the Active Fish Consumption Advisories.
  2. Do not swim at the beaches located within the AOC without checking for any active swimming advisories or closures based on E. coli levels.

Additional Resources:

Additional Information:

For additional information on the Grand Calumet River/Indiana Harbor Ship Canal Area of Concern, please contact the IDEM Northwest Regional Office.