Kalamazoo River

EPA Holds Kalamazoo River Cleanup Forum

Jan 6, 2020

A $245-million settlement to clean up the Kalamazoo River will be the topic of a meeting Tuesday, January 7. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency negotiated the consent decree with NCR Corporation.


For their book on the history of the Kalamazoo River Western Michigan University Geography Professor Lisa DeChano-Cook and the department’s Administrative Assistant Mary Lou Brooks used photos from historical societies and libraries. They also got pictures from people they met along the way who live in towns along the river. 

The proposed plan is for Area 1 on the map
Environmental Protection Agency

Funding for Great Lakes programs is protected in the latest federal budget signed into law by President Donald Trump, but Gary Wilson, contributor to Detroit Public Television’s Great Lakes Bureau says many of the same battles may be fought again for next year’s budget.

Ryan Dy of Holland (right) and Tom Fik of Allegan (left) fishing at Allegan Dam
Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

People aren’t supposed to eat the fish out of the Kalamazoo River, but many still do. Fish in the river are contaminated with PCBs - the toxin leftover from Kalamazoo’s old paper mills. Eating the fish over time could cause cancer, birth defects, neurological issues, and other health problems. Decades ago the state put up signs warning people of the risks that come with eating the fish, but those signs aren’t reaching everyone.

A map of Area 2 of the Kalamazoo River cleanup between Plainwell and the Otsego City Dam. The lines in orange are the anabraches - which is where the EPA says most of the contamination lies.

Many people want to see the Otsego City Dam removed - including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA unveiled possible options for the next phase of the Kalamazoo River cleanup - between Plainwell and the Otsego City Dam - Wednesday night. Most of those plans included removing the dam.