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Kinnickinnic River Legacy Act Cleanup

Map of the Kinnickinnic River project area relative to the Milwaukee Estuary AOC.
The Kinnickinnic River project area relative to the Milwaukee Estuary AOC.

The Kinnickinnic (KK) River is one of the three rivers that flow into the Milwaukee Estuary at Lake Michigan. The project area, part of the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern (AOC), was a section approximately 2,000 feet long and 200 feet wide located between KK Avenue (the downstream limit) and Becher Street (the upstream limit). Through the Great Lakes Legacy Act Program, contaminated sediment cleanup was implemented in the area in 2009.

Key partners on cleanup project

Remediation process

Throughout the years, sediment accumulated in the KK River, resulting in poor conditions for navigation. Prior to the project's completion, the project area was very shallow. Additionally, the sediment was contaminated, primarily with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), as a result of evolving urban growth and development, industrial activities and a lack of effective regulations before the mid–1970s.

The cleanup helped jumpstart a local economic and commercial revitalization by removing nearly 170,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, with approximately 1,200 pounds of PCBs and 13,000 pounds of PAHs removed, and restored the functionality of the navigation channel in the section of the river.

The sediment cleanup cost was about $23 million dollars, with the state acting as the nonfederal sponsor and contributing the 35 percent nonfederal cost share required under the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

Technical reports

Closeup map of the Kinnickinnic River project area.
The Kinnickinnic River project area.

Phase V – Implementation

Phase IV – Supplemental Design

Phase III – Final Engineering Design

Phase II – Feasibility Study

Phase I – Assessment