Cleanup removes tons of mercury

from Michigan lake

A dredging project removed 43,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the bottom of Muskegon Lake and advanced efforts to remove the lake from a list of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern.


Historic pollution discharges into a storm sewer that drained into Muskegon Lake, which flows into Lake Michigan, deposited tons of mercury and petroleum compounds on the lake bottom. The pollutants contaminated fish, destroyed habitat and contributed to Muskegon Lake being named a Great Lakes Area of Concern in the late 1980s. The tainted sediments contaminated fish, prompting consumption advisories. The dredging near the Division Street outfall was the second major sediment removal project in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern. The EPA recently completed a $10 million project that removed 95,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from Ruddiman Creek, a tributary of Muskegon Lake. Those cleanups will bolster efforts to get the lake delisted as a Great Lakes Area of Concern.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Contaminated sediments laced with mercury
  • Fish consumption advisories
  • Loss of fish habitat


An excavator on a barge in the water

Contaminated sediment was removed from Muskegon Lake to help address long-standing pollution problems. Credit: Lynn Vaccaro Michigan Sea Grant.

Results and Accomplishments

Removed 43,000 cubic yards of sediment contaminated with mercury and petroleum compounds from Muskegon Lake, which will reduce fish contaminants. The project cleaned up 46 areas of the bottom of Muskegon Lake, a popular fishing and boating lake in west Michigan.