Cleanup Finished on Popular Blatz Pavilion Lagoon in Milwaukee

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Excavation of the sediment behind the silt curtain used to protect the Milwaukee River. - WDNR PhotoMILWAUKEE – The popular Blatz Pavilion lagoon in Milwaukee’s Lincoln Park has reopened for boating and fishing after mud containing PCBs was removed from it as part of a collaborative project between the Department of Natural Resources and Milwaukee County. Planning continues for a larger effort to clean up the adjacent Lincoln Park Lagoon and channel.

“We’re very pleased to complete this important first step in restoring recreational opportunities in Lincoln Park,” says DNR Secretary Matt Frank. “The park has long been an important recreational spot for the local community, and this work allows people to enjoy it again.”

Contact with Milwaukee River water is no longer a problem for people boating in the lagoon as a result of the project. People fishing from 1-acre lagoon who want to eat their catch should follow the fish consumption advice for that stretch of the Milwaukee River.

Frank says that the $1.3 million project was possible because of state Great Lakes Program Funds that Gov. Jim Doyle and the Wisconsin Legislature provided to address the significant sources of toxic chemicals that have contaminated fish in Wisconsin’s major tributaries to the Great Lakes.

“This project, like the Kinnickinnic River cleanup announced last week, demonstrates Governor Doyle’s commitment to providing the resources to successfully address the contaminated sediment sites in the state and restore our natural resources for people to enjoy,” Frank says.

Bulldozer spreading a new sand blanket over the area that sediment was removed from and rock was placed to bring it back to the correct elevation. - WDNR PhotoOn July 20, Doyle announced a $24.4 million project to clean contaminated sediment from the Kinnickinnic River in Milwaukee. The state is leveraging about $7.7 million of state funds, earmarked in the current state budget, to secure $14 million in federal funds for the cleanup. The city of Milwaukee also is contributing money.

The Blatz Pavilion site was identified as a priority cleanup site by the DNR and the local community following a 2005 report on PCBs in the Estabrook Impoundment in Lincoln Park in Milwaukee, according to Ted Bosch, project engineer from the DNR Southeast Region. The risks posed by the site included skin contact and potential water ingestion by park users, and the consumption of too many contaminated fish from the river. Infants and children of women who have eaten a lot of PCB-contaminated fish may have lower birth weights and delayed physical and learning development. PCBs also may affect reproductive function and the immune system and are also associated with cancer risk.

The department conducted an environmental investigation of the river but was not able to determine a source that was responsible for the PCB contamination.

The Blatz project removed an estimated 300 pounds of PCBs in nearly 4,000 cubic yards of mud from the lagoon bottom. About 2,000 tons of the mud with higher concentrations of PCBs were shipped out of state to a chemical waste landfill. About 3,500 tons of low level sediment were disposed in a local solid waste landfill, Bosch says.

The lagoon bottom was restored with sand and gravel and improvements were made to the lagoon waterfront, Bosch says. The DNR, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Milwaukee County, and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sanitary District all provided supervision for the contractor performing the work.

The experience DNR staff gained on other sediment remediation projects, including the Lower Fox River project, resulted in the success of the Blatz Pavilion lagoon project, according to Greg Hill who leads the DNR’s statewide contaminated sediment management program.

That expertise will be important as the DNR and Milwaukee County tackle the larger clean up project the must be done in the adjacent Lincoln Park Lagoon and channel. The DNR is developing a project plan with Milwaukee County to design and implement this next project.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Greg Hill – (608) 267-9352