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Calumet Harbor and River

The Calumet Harbor and River navigation project is a vital part of the regional economy. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regularly performs maintenance dredging to provide sufficient depths for safe and efficient navigation within Calumet Harbor and River.  Material dredged from the channel is currently placed in the Chicago Area Confined Disposal Facility (CDF). As the CDF nears capacity, the USACE Chicago District is developing a dredged material management plan (DMMP) for maintaining Calumet Harbor and River over the next twenty years.

Project Area:
Calumet Harbor and River is located on Lake Michigan on the far south side of Chicago, at the Illinois-Indiana Border. The Federal channel is approximately 11 miles long and varies in width (from 3,200 feet in the approach channel to 200 feet in the river) and depth (from 29 feet in the approach channel to 27 feet in the river). Calumet Harbor and River is the 3rd busiest port on the Great Lakes based on tonnage; over 14.6 million tons of commodities passed through the harbor in 2007. Calumet Harbor and River is also a harbor of refuge, available to vessels for shelter during storms.

The DMMP investigation is focused on three types of management measures:

a.       Reducing sedimentation through source control. If sediments can be controlled at their source before they settle in the Federal channel, the amount of material required to be dredged and managed can be reduced.

b.      Beneficial use of dredged material. While sediment from Calumet Harbor and River has historically contained contaminants, the quality of the material has improved over time.  The Chicago District has conducted extensive sampling of material in Calumet Harbor and is currently coordinating with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and it appears likely this material which constitutes approximately half of the overall sediment volume could be used beneficially without confinement.

c.       Additional confined disposal capacity. Although the quality of the material in the Harbor channel has improved, material dredged from Calumet River still contains a significant level of contamination.  To prevent adverse impacts to the environment, confined placement will continue to be required for this sediment.

Project Benefits:
Over 9 million tons of commodities are shipped via deep draft through Calumet Harbor and River every year. The shippers use the maximum available draft to keep shipping costs low. If a plan for management of the dredged material is not identified, sediment would accumulate in the Federal channel, reducing available draft. Shipping costs would increase, reducing the economic viability of the harbor.

Project Status:
The Project Delivery Team has identified several potential measures to manage sediment dredged from the Federal Channel. The measures were identified to meet study objectives of reducing sediment accumulation in the channel, finding beneficial uses for the sediment, and increasing available confined disposal capacity.

Estimated Schedule:

Identify Tentatively Selected Plan     November 2013
Public Review of Draft DMMP            February 2014

Project Manager

Tim Kroll