USA: Sheboygan River Dredging to Continue Next Year

The Superfund cleanup of the Sheboygan River between Eighth and 14th streets will be delayed until next spring, Mayor Bob Ryan said Monday night.

The delay is because the Environmental Protection Agency and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources have yet to sign off on an agreement on the final design of the cleanup, expected to remove 50,000 to 60,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river that is contaminated with polychlorinated byphenyls, or PCBs.

Officials had hoped to start work by August, but Ryan said the delay might turn out beneficial for the city and Sheboygan County, both of which want to get the river dredged to a depth of between 10 and 14 feet, to make it navigable for boating, recreation and economic development.

“Anytime that you don’t meet a perceived schedule I don’t see it as an accomplishment,” Ryan said. “However the benefit is that we get more done.”

Ryan said the city and county are planning to contribute $100,000 each toward design work to remove enough sediment to reduce the amount of PCBs from Eighth to 14th streets to 6 parts per million. The mayor said two other responsible parties for the pollution, which he declined to name, could also contribute $100,000 each, making a total of $400,000 for the design work.

Ryan said the hope is to get the design work to the EPA as soon as possible so the city and county can seek money through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to remove the additional sediment from Eighth to 14th streets, which could dredge the river to a depth of 10 feet.

“The depth of the river is a side benefit of removing the contaminants,” Ryan said.

The city and county also hope to get the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the river from Eighth Street east to the harbor to a depth of 14 feet.

If approved, the entire project could be complete by the end of 2012, Ryan said.

The EPA is proposing to spend $14 million to remove enough sediment to take out just what is necessary to clean up the river, but that effort will take out only 1 to 6 feet of sediment. The cost for further dredging, estimated to be about $20 million, would be up to the city and county, which is why officials are looking for help from grants and other sources.

Ryan said the city plans to use $100,000 from its boat facilities fund, which is made up of boat user fees and used for repairs for marine amenities, for its share of the design work for the dredging project. The use of the boat fund requires Common Council approval.

The Sheboygan River dredging project dates to the mid-1980s when a 14-mile stretch of the river was designated as a hazardous waste site under the federal Superfund act.

By Bob Petrie (sheboyganpress)


Source: sheboyganpress, September 14, 2010;