This summer, the process of sediment remediation and wetland restoration will begin in Ruddiman Creek. AWRI scientists conducted the initial assessment that identified high levels of heavy metals and organic chemicals in this small urban watershed located in the city of Muskegon. The creek flows through a residential neighborhood, and a city park is located along the stream banks. Important natural features include Ruddiman Pond, which is a 21-acre water body, and 34 acres of wetlands. Historical wastewater and stormwater discharges, improper hazardous waste disposal practices, and the input of contaminated groundwater all have contributed to the degradation and contamination of this important local resource. It is one of the few sites in the Great Lakes where there are public health concerns associated with the direct contact of contaminated sediments. Although significant environmental problems in the creek were identified in 1995, it took 10 years to conduct the necessary environmental studies, perform the engineering analyses of remediation alternatives, develop the final plan, and obtain the funds to complete the project. Local citizen groups, government officials, AWRI, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. EPA, and the MDEQ all worked together to make this remediation possible. The $8,000,000 project will include the removal of 60,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, the construction of an engineered wetland to stabilize hydrology, and the restoration of the dredged area to create pools and a braided channel that are capable of supporting a variety of wetland vegetation.
The remediation of Ruddiman Creek is the second project to be funded under the Great Lakes Legacy Act. Faculty and students are welcome to visit the site and observe the progress of remediation and restoration activities from McGraft Park. When the project is completed, the local residents will be able to enjoy this important resource without concerns related to public health. In addition, the stream and wetland ecosystem will have both increased habitat diversity and produced more stable hydrologic conditions. We celebrate the efforts and hard work of everyone that made this environmental clean-up possible.