OVERVIEW AND STATUS:
Calumet Harbor & River is located on Lake Michigan in the City of Chicago, Illinois. The federally-maintained project includes an approach channel and outer harbor channel, protected by two miles of breakwater, and the river channel. The federal navigation project extends 4.4 miles within the harbor and 6.7 miles along the Calumet River to Lake Calumet. Along the river channel are three turning basins that are also maintained as part of the federal navigation channel. Authorized depths of this deep-draft waterway are 29 feet in the approach channel, 28 feet in the outer harbor, and 27 feet in the Calumet River.
The federal navigation channels in the Chicago Area Waterway System are a vital part of the local, regional, and national economy. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regularly performs maintenance dredging to ensure sufficient depths for safe and efficient navigation within Calumet Harbor & River. An annual average of 50,000 cubic yards (cy) of sediment are dredged from the Calumet Harbor and River and placed in the Chicago Area Confined Disposal Facility (CDF).
The existing CDF is nearing capacity and currently life-extension measures are being utilized at the facility. A Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) has been approved for the continued dredging operations of Calumet Harbor & River and the Cal-Sag Channel for the next 20 years. The plan is described below. The DMMP report and integrated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was approved on Sept. 15, 2020, with the signing of the final NEPA Record of Decision. Links to the DMMP public meeting materials, the final DMMP report, Record of Decision, and other project information are included on the righthand side of this webpage.
The project consists of the construction of a new Dredged Material Disposal Facility (DMDF) by vertically expanding the existing Chicago Area CDF. Calumet Harbor sediment, which is suitable for upland use as clean fill, will be used beneficially as construction material for the new facility. The total amount of dredging anticipated to occur over the 20-year project period is 1,030,000 cy. The DMDF will store only contaminated dredged material with a capacity of approximately 530,000 cubic yards. The remaining quantity of dredged material will be used beneficially. No material suitable for beneficial use will be placed in the new facility.
The local sponsors and cost share partners for the project are the City of Chicago Department of Transportation, the Chicago Park District, and the Illinois International Port District. Design for the new DMDF project is nearing completion and a construction contract to build the facility is expected to be awarded in December 2021.
Calumet Harbor and River are part of a larger transportation network in the Chicagoland area and Illinois. Shippers make use of cargo handling services at the port, as well as locally available rail and truck transportation, warehousing, and fuel sources. This industry contributes to Illinois’ economy with sales, employment, labor income, and gross regional product. The Port of Chicago (which includes Calumet Harbor & River and the Cal-Sag Channel) is the second busiest port on the Great Lakes by tonnage. Commodity movements in the Cal-Sag Channel are predominantly through-traffic, travelling between the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and the Calumet River. Without channel maintenance dredging, sediment would accumulate in the federal channels. The reduction in channel depth from accumulated sediment may cause vessels to light-load, resulting in increased transportation costs. Maintenance dredging of Calumet Harbor & River produces an average yearly volume of approximately 50,000 cubic yards of material. In addition, it is anticipated that approximately 30,000 cubic yards of sediment will need to be dredged from the Cal-Sag Channel sometime over the next 20 years. The level of contamination in Calumet River and Cal-Sag Channel sediment prohibits its placement in Lake Michigan or beneficial use as clean upland fill. Therefore, it must be contained in the new DMDF.