Burnham Canal Wetlands Project advances with EPA provided Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding

Published Feb. 26, 2013
Design work will soon proceed on an estimated $3.1 million wetland project to cap an underwater Superfund site. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) as an active member in the public/private partnership for the Burnham Canal Wetland Project, recently signed a partnership agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

“To help protect Lake Michigan, we’re looking at creating 4.5 acres of wetland in a heavily industrialized area of Milwaukee that will prevent pollution from spreading into the lake, and improve the overall ecosystem in the area” said Steven Check, Project Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District.

The Fund for Lake Michigan contributed $105,000 towards design with the remaining $195,000 coming from the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). USACE in partnership with the MMSD will perform the design work. As the design phase of the project gets started, the partnering group will continue to seek funding for the construction phase of the project.

“The project will serve as a model throughout the Great Lakes, combining economic development with environmental sustainability,” said MMSD Executive Director Kevin Shafer.

Wetlands in the canal would improve water quality and greatly enhance fish and wildlife habitat, especially for northern pike that prefer to spawn in vegetated wetland areas in the spring.

“Improved water quality and better wildlife habitat all through an innovative alliance of partners,” said Vicki Elkin, Executive Director of the Fund for Lake Michigan. “This project is a “win” for everyone.”

Constructed in the 1870’s, the Burnham Canal drained wild rice marshes in the Menomonee River Valley and provided a shipping canal, connecting industry to the Great Lakes.

The canal is currently part of the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern, as designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This project is part of an agreement with the local owner to improve the environmental quality in the area

Miller Compressing, purchased in 2012 by Alter Trading Corporation, voluntarily agreed to pay for remediating the contamination as the cooperating responsible party. The company will contribute a maximum amount of $1.6 million towards construction of the wetland project and $205,000 towards monitoring and maintenance.

Bill Graffin

Release no. 022613-001