The Sheboygan River, which was dubbed an “Area of Concern” in the 1980s for its high levels of environmental pollution and degradation, has just completed the final stages of a dredging project to clean and restore the river.

Approximately 300,000 cubic yards of sediment (equivalent to 15,000 dump trucks full) contaminated with PCBs and PAHs were removed from the river between August 2012 and early January 2013. As a result, river-goers will enjoy a deeper river with better navigation and access, and a cleaner habitat for fish and wildlife to thrive.

IISG’s Caitie McCoy worked with a local team throughout 2012 to provide information to stakeholders and the public on the project. She completed a study in March (PDF) with University of Illinois student Ada Morgan to learn how to communicate the sediment remediation project and its benefits to the public. The study helped the team tailor outreach products and messaging for everyone who uses and visits the river.

Work on the Sheboygan river will continue through 2013 to improve fish and wildlife habitats, both nearshore and underwater. “The dredging and habitat work are the last remaining actions necessary to take Sheboygan off a list of most polluted places in the Great Lakes,” wrote Caitie. “This has been an enormous team effort by the U.S. EPA and their partners, and we can’t thank the community enough for their support during the cleanup.”