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USACE marks closeout of the Little Calumet River flood control and recreation project

Chicago District
Published June 24, 2024

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Ind.), and the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission are celebrating the closeout of the historic Little Calumet River Flood Damage Reduction Project.

“As we close out this project, we celebrate not just engineering excellence but a significant achievement in protecting and enhancing lives in this region,” remarked Col. Kenneth Rockwell, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District. “This success is a result of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved over the past decades. Thank you to all who contributed.”

Efforts to address flooding along the Little Calumet River began after the major floods of the late 1930s and early 1940s. Following the Flood Control Act of 1941, the Corps evaluated flood control measures, culminating in a comprehensive plan in 1976. The project underwent refinements and was authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 and was designed to provide protection from flooding up to the 200-year level on the west branch of the Little Calumet River from the Illinois state line to Interstate 65.

Since the Local Cooperation Agreement in 1990, the Corps has constructed more than 22 miles of existing levees and floodwalls, installing a control structure at Hart Ditch, building almost 17 miles of hiking trails, and preserving more than 550 acres of wetland. The project also involved relocating seven miles of river channel to allow better water flow, modifying highway bridges to permit unobstructed flow of water, and installing a flood warning system.

William Baker, Chairman of the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission said, “this is part of a larger whole in northwest Indiana that creates an area of great beauty, environmental significance, and economic growth.”

Today, this project now protects more than 9,500 homes and businesses in Gary, Griffith, Hammond, Highland, and Munster, preventing nearly $11 million in average annual flood damages.

Congressman Mrvan stated, “Today, we are mindful of all the individuals and families who have lost their lives, been displaced, or had their businesses closed due to catastrophic flooding along the Little Calumet River. I am grateful for the leadership of all of the stakeholders to reduce the dangers of flooding, increase home values, ameliorate the burden of expensive flood insurance, and also enhance and improve outdoor recreational activities for everyone in our region. Let us continue to build on this action and demonstrate the collaborative ability of federal, state, and local governments to impactfully respond to the needs of our region.”

Jacob Zdrojewski

Release no. 24-093

Chick Lock

Through deeds, not words, we are BUILDING STRONG®