In March of 2017, Envirocon began the programmatic cleanup and restoration of the riverbanks and channels along the Kalamazoo River as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) supervised Otsego Township Dam Time Critical Removal Action (TCRA). Historic paper manufacturing activities along the river deposited polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination along the banks and in sediments, which requires removal, stabilization, and disposal offsite at approved landfill facilities. The purpose of the project is to remove contamination that has the potential to migrate into the river, and restore the river habitat for wildlife and community residents to enjoy.
As part of Envirocon’s scope of work for the 23-month project, crews will remove over 120,000 cubic yards of impacted riverbank soils and in-river sediments through traditional mechanical excavation methods; install cofferdams to allow river sediment excavation under dry conditions; hydraulically dredge sediments to establish a new channel alignment; remove a temporary steel sheetpile water control structure; install natural river structures to prevent future erosion of newly established banks; and provide bank stabilization and restoration through backfill, root wads and stone armoring, and native seeding/planting of over approximately 3.4 miles of riverbank.
In a close-knit community like Otsego, Envirocon’s project success requires more than just meeting the objectives for cleanup on the project site. Working closely with the residents of Otsego and the surrounding areas throughout the project is just as important to ensure that we do our best not to disturb the daily lives of residents, and leave behind a cleaner, more useable natural resource for the community and resident wildlife.
Throughout the Otsego project, the Project Team has maintained a positive relationship with the community through interaction and events that serve to thank the residents of Otsego for their support and highlight the positive feedback we have received. Envirocon cleanup crews conducted multiple events throughout the year to say thank you for positivity that the area residents have shown over the life of the project. Through collecting and delivering Christmas gifts to the local church during the holidays, providing Christmas cards with gift certificates to neighboring residents, and renting an ice cream truck during the summer to provide treats to the children in town, Envirocon has reciprocated the warmth the Otsego community has shown our project team. The project team also hosted several visits and field trips from local schools for students interested in the environmental and construction aspects of the project. In return, residents have shown their appreciation and engagement through participation in these events and even hosting the Envirocon crew for cookouts and lunches.
“The Otsego TRCA project covers a large area involving many residential areas; we strive to be good neighbors and truly appreciate the engagement and feedback from the community, all of which has contributed immensely to the success of this project,” says Pat Davidson, Envirocon Operations Director for the TCRA project.
Envirocon’s work on this phase of the TCRA project is scheduled to wrap up in the summer of 2018 with the final restoration of excavated river areas. We would like to sincerely thank the community of Otsego, the EPA representatives, the State of Michigan, and our Clients for their contributions to the positive atmosphere surrounding the project and their continued dedication to ensuring the success of the Kalamazoo River cleanup.