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Case Study

Strategic sediment management to restore a Great Lakes waterway

Every Challenge Has a Backstory

Due to the presence of contaminated sediments and lack of a suitable storage area for the sediment, the Indiana Harbor and Canal, considered one of the most polluted waterway in the Great Lakes area, had not been dredged in 40 years. In 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District set out to remove 1.6 million cubic yards of sediment from the waterway—the legacy of decades of pollution from nearby heavy industry—to restore the harbor and ship canal to navigable depths and improve water quality in southern Lake Michigan.

The Chicago District selected OBG, in a joint venture with Kokosing Construction Company (Kokosing), to dredge and dispose of sediment in a way that is safe to human health, improves the environment, and is economically beneficial.

OBG’s Focus on Solutions

The $60 million project involves the operation of a confined disposal facility (CDF) and a groundwater collection and treatment plant on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) site. The CDF permanently stores dredged sediments, as well as contains existing on-site soil and groundwater contamination in compliance with RCRA requirements.

OBG has provided integrated preliminary design for the water treatment system and operations & maintenance services for the CDF. The Company also is implementing an innovative air monitoring program and reporting real-time air quality data through a public website. Kokosing has provided dredging and sediment services along with construction services in support of the water treatment system.

Results that Matter

Since the project started, nearly 1 million cubic yards of sediment have been safely removed from the Indiana Harbor and Canal and confined, generally reducing the contaminants that had previously been washing into Lake Michigan and improving the efficiency of deep draft commercial navigation. Maintenance dredging is planned over the next 20 years.