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Kalamazoo River

Contact Information

US EPA RAP Liaison
John Haugland
(haugland.john@epa.gov)
312-886-9853
U.S. EPA, GLNPO
77 West Jackson Blvd. (G-17J)
Chicago, IL 60604-3590

State RAP Contact
Julie Sims
(simsj@michigan.gov)
517-335-2732
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality – Water Bureau
525 W. Allegan Street
P.O. Box 30273
Lansing, MI 48909

Local Coordinators:
Stephen K. Hamilton
(hamilton@kbs.msu.edu)
269-978-4606 or 269-671-2231
President, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council
408 E. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Jeff Spoelstra
(krwc@kalamazooriver.org)
269-978-4606
Coordinator, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council
408 E. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007

Superfund Contacts
Shari Kolak
(kolak.shari@epa.gov)
312-886-6151
Superfund Remedial Project Manager
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd. (SR-6J)
Chicago, IL 60604-3590

Paul Bucholtz
(bucholtp@michigan.gov)
517-373-8174
MDEQ, Superfund Remedial Project Manager
P.O. Box 30426
Lansing, MI 48909-7926

Frequent Acronyms

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Kalamazoo River AoC Boundary Map

Kalamazoo River AOC Boundary Map (PDF) (1pg, 991K)

Kalamazoo River shape file (ZIP) (248K)

Background

The Kalamazoo River drains an extensive watershed in the southwest portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan. The river flows in a westerly direction and discharges into Lake Michigan near the town of Saugatuck. The upstream boundary of the Area of Concern (AOC) is Morrow Dam, which forms Morrow Pond, and the AOC extends downstream to Lake Michigan, a distance of approximately eighty miles. The city of Kalamazoo is situated along the AOC reach, and the city of Battle Creek is not far upstream. The Calkins Dam forms a reservoir of 1,600 acres (Lake Allegan) between Kalamazoo and Lake Michigan that traps most sediments and associated contaminants transported by the river. Between Morrow Dam and Lake Allegan are several smaller, decommissioned hydroelectric dams that are partially removed but may soon require further removal or repair due to their decrepit state. The dam removal effort will be complicated by the contaminated sediments trapped behind the dams.

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Beneficial Use Impairments

The Remedial Action Plan (RAP) process identified eight of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement's 14 beneficial uses as being impaired. Beneficial use impairments in the AOC include Restrictions on Fish & Wildlife Consumption, Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations, Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems, Degradation of Benthos, Restrictions on Dredging Activities, Beach Closings, Degradation of Aesthetics, and Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat. More details on these impairments, including a list of information sources, can be found in the Kalamazoo River Remedial Action Plan (RAP) (http://www.glc.org/spac/rapdocs.html) Exit disclaimer

The Kalamazoo River was listed as an AOC due to historic releases of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which originated primarily from de-inking operations at local paper mills. The Kalamazoo River has been identified as a site of environmental contamination pursuant to the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 451 and is included in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund.

Kalamazoo River priorities include remediation of PCB contaminated sediments in the river and in floodplain sites along the river, control of nonpoint source pollution (particularly phosphorus), and habitat restoration.

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Delisting Targets

The Kalamazoo River Watershed Council is the local organization with the responsibility to initiate the BUI delisting process. The Council will partner with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International Joint Commission throughout the process to determine whether or not a BUI is restored and if it should be delisted from the AOC. In late 2005, the Council was awarded a grant from the U.S. EPA - Great Lakes National Program Office to revise the RAP for the AOC and to set their local delisting targets or accept the State of Michigan’s Guidance for Delisting Michigan’s Great Lakes Areas of Concern Exit disclaimer (PDF 508Kb, 61 pages).

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RAP Development and Status

The U.S. EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), with support from the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council and other local groups, coordinate efforts to restore beneficial uses in the AOC.

Since the PCB contamination was identified as a problem in the 1970’s, several actions have been taken to improve conditions within the AOC. The discharge of PCBs has been substantially reduced due to the ban on PCB production and other regulatory point source controls, such as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. However, contaminated sediments in the river and adjacent floodplains continue to serve as a source of PCBs to the Kalamazoo River.

PCB-laden sediments eroding from Portage Creek banks at Bryant Mill Pond have been removed. PCB-contaminated soils at landfills have been contained. A remediation plan for PCB-contaminated sediments in and along the Kalamazoo River is being developed.

In 1998, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality published the Kalamazoo River Remedial Action Plan. The RAP is currently being revised by the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council.

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Significant RAP Milestones

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RAP Implementation

Recent progress and achievements

Current projects and outlook

Additionally, since the PCB contamination was identified as a problem in 1971, several actions have been taken to improve conditions within the AOC including the following:

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RAP-Related Publications

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Community Involvement

The Kalamazoo River Watershed PAC was established in 1993. The PAC consists of local residents representing a variety of stakeholders throughout the AOC. In 1998, the PAC incorporated as a nonprofit organization under the name of the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council. Its Board of Directors meets monthly.

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Photos

Kalamazoo River floodplain plants

Kalamazoo River floodplain plants

Marshall drainage pipe on the Kalamazoo River

Kalamazoo River - Marshall drainage pipe

Allegan historic bridge on the Kalamazoo River

Allegan historic bridge on the Kalamazoo River

Kayakers on the Kalamazoo River

Kayakers on the Kalamazoo River

Otsego City Dam and Menasha

Otsego City Dam and Menasha (bottom)

Otsego City Dam

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