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News Releases

USACE, Buffalo District Hosted Public Information Session about the Proposed Plan to Clean up Contaminated Sediment in the Lower Maumee River

Buffalo District
Published Aug. 11, 2023
A woman gives a presentation in front of a crowd in a pavilion.

Dr. Karen Keil, an environmental toxicologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District, presents remedial action objectives and sediment remedial goals for the clean-up of the lower Maumee River during a public information session in Toledo, Ohio, Aug. 10, 2022. USACE is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ohio EPA on the project. (U.S. Army photo by Andre' M. Hampton)

More than 20 people attended the Lower Maumee River Great Lakes Legacy Act public information session on the proposed sediment clean-up plan. The information session allowed for dialog to learn more about contaminated sediments located in the Lower Maumee River of the Maumee Area of Concern (AOC). Attendees asked questions and provided feedback about the project before a remedial design phase begins.

The proposed feasibility study is posted online at: https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-aocs/information-session-proposed-contaminated-sediment-clean-lower-maumee-river. The deadline to provide comments about this study is September 4, 2023. Please email comments to: lowermaumeeriver@usace.army.mil.

Feasibility Study Highlights/Goals: 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ohio EPA entered into a Great Lakes Legacy Act Project Agreement to conduct a Focused Feasibility Studies (FFSs) in the Maumee River, part of the Maumee AOC. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo District prepared this FFS through an Interagency Agreement with the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office. This FFS has been prepared to evaluate remedial alternatives for contaminated sediment in the Lower Maumee River project area and includes two distinct reaches (Sway Bridge and wastewater treatment plant - WWTP). 

The lower portion of the Maumee River continues to be a crucial commercial resource to the region, while also providing recreational opportunities to the community and an increasing amount of habitat to aquatic life and wildlife in the Maumee AOC. 

The feasibility study remedial action objectives were developed to support removal of the degradation of benthos beneficial use impairment (BUI). Sediment remedies have been evaluated for their ability to reduce long-term benthic invertebrate exposure to chemicals of concern at each site. Remedial actions which improve the health of the benthic population may also serve to improve other fish and wildlife populations as their food source and the health of the river overall. 

The format of this study follows similar and previously developed FFSs for other sediment remedial actions in the Maumee AOC and other Great Lakes AOCs. This FFS developed multiple alternatives that included remedial technologies and processing options such as sediment removal, capping, transport, dewatering, and evaluation of potential placement (disposal) sites, as well as the no action alternative and monitored natural recovery alternatives at each of the sites. Many of these alternatives along with the preferred remedy were discussed at the information session. 

The Maumee Area of Concern: 
  • The Maumee AOC, located in northwest Ohio, encompasses a portion of the Lower Maumee River watershed that includes almost 23 miles of the mainstem of the Maumee River, as well as 11 additional independent waterways that flow into the Maumee River, Maumee Bay or Lake Erie. The AOC includes 787 square miles of watersheds, 45 miles of Lake Erie shoreline and over 1,930 miles of streams. The Maumee AOC is among the largest of Great Lakes Areas of Concern by area.
  • The past industrial uses of the river resulted in conditions and areas that need to be remediated and restored due to sediment contamination, degraded fish and wildlife health and impaired recreational uses within the AOC.
  • The Maumee AOC had ten of 14 beneficial use impairments to address as it moved towards delisting. Three BUIs have achieved their restoration targets and have been removed. Through the partnership of the local Advisory Committee and numerous local, state, and federal partners, the Maumee AOC has established management actions to address the remaining BUIs and have many projects underway. A notable achievement is the completion of the Ottawa River sediment remediation project in 2010. As of December 2020, the Maumee AOC had identified all its Management Actions.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
  • Lake Erie has been a model of ecosystem recovery. With a share in over $1 billion in basin-wide Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding, Ohio can continue to participate in the restoration of Lake Erie. Ohio’s GLRI funded projects remove barriers to fish spawning areas, restore beneficial uses in Ohio’s three remaining Areas of Concern, reduce harmful algal blooms, make beaches safer, protect critical habitats, reduce contamination from traditional non-point sources, address emerging contaminants of concern, and track measurable goals through some of the country's best monitoring programs.
  • With the help of GLRI funding, the balance between use and preservation of Lake Erie’s coastal resources will be achieved.The Brookings Institution has estimated that implementing the Great Lakes restoration strategy in full will generate $50 billion in long-term benefits, creating jobs, revitalizing our regional economy, and improving our quality of life.
Leadership Quotes: 
  • “Partnerships like we have with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Lake Erie Commission and other partners engaged in the Ohio Area of Concern Program are excellent examples of how we work together to improve the lives of communities across the state of Ohio. In the Army Corps, we do not do anything alone – these relationships are critical to our success,” said Lt. Col. Colby Krug, commander of the Buffalo District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • “Ohio has a great history of industrial innovation, and some of that industrial growth resulted in contamination to our waterways. Ohio EPA appreciates the partnership of the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer as we work together to clean up legacy sites and restore our rivers. The Lower Maumee River cleanup advances our mission of preserving one of Ohio's greatest natural resources – our water,” said Anne M. Vogel, Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
The Lower Maumee River Great Lakes Legacy Act Feasibility Study will be available for review and public comment beginning early August 2023: https://www.epa.gov/great-lakes-aocs/information-session-proposed-contaminated-sediment-clean-lower-maumee-river

For more information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative please visit: https://www.glri.us/ and https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Great-Lakes-Restoration-Initiative

For more information about the Maumee Area of Concern please visit:  https://lakeerie.ohio.gov/programs-and-projects/areas-of-concern/05-Maumee+AOC

The Buffalo District delivers world class engineering solutions to the Great Lakes Region, the Army and the Nation in order to ensure national security, environmental sustainability, water resource management, and emergency assistance during peace and war.


Contact
Avery Schneider
716-879-4410
avery.p.schneider@usace.army.mil
478 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202
or
Andrew Kornacki
716-879-4349
andrew.a.kornacki@usace.army.mil
478 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202

Release no. 23-017

Chick Lock

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