The Indiana Harbor and Canal (IHC) is located on Lake Michigan adjacent to the City of East Chicago, IN. The IHC itself was constructed beginning in 1901 and is maintained by the federal government as authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1913. Indiana Harbor is the 42nd busiest U.S. port with 15 million tons of material shipped or received each year, including iron ore, coke, gypsum, steel, cement, petroleum products and other commodities. Heavy industry in the area includes steel manufacturing, petrochemical processing, and petroleum refining.

Historic contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals has put the canal under the Environmental Protection Agency's Grand Calumet River Area of Concern (AoC)—the only AoC to be listed impaired in all 14 beneficial use categories. The harbor and canal have not been dredged since 1972, because the sediments are unsuitable for open water disposal and no alternative disposal site has been available. This dredging of backlogged sediment will restore the efficiency of deep draft commercial navigation and prevent further pollution of Lake Michigan.