Alliance releases report on St. Louis River progressThe St. Louis River Alliance published a first-ever report of progress for the St Louis River area of concern.
The St. Louis River Alliance published a first-ever report of progress for the St Louis River area of concern.
The report highlights achievements and progress made to address issues that caused the St. Louis River to be designated as an area of concern on the Great Lakes. The news is good, but work remains to remove the designation.
The St. Louis River was one of 43 areas of concern identified in the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between the U.S. and Canada in the 1980s. The areas share a history of past industrial use prior to environmental regulation, when dumping polluted waste in the water and on the land was common practice.
The St Louis River area of concern is one of the largest, encompassing portions of the St. Louis River watershed and the entire Nemadji River watershed. It is shared between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Today, there are now 38 remaining areas of concern.
Significant achievements outlined in the report include improvements to wastewater treatment systems, such as Western Lake Superior Sanitary District and the Superior Wastewater Treatment Plant, improvement to control and reduce storm water runoff, cleanup of major contaminated sediment sites as well as habitat restoration and protection efforts.
The progress made to date is the result of decades of collaborative effort among a large number of partners that include local, state, tribal and federal agencies and non-government organizations. It also reflects a preliminary estimate of strategic investment of more than $420 million from 1978 to 2103 toward the improvements.
The progress report is released in advance of an updated action plan for the area of concern, expected later this year.
The St. Louis River AOC Implementation Framework will outline a “road map” of multi-year strategic actions necessary to address the remaining issues. The road map will provide the AOC Coordinating Team with the ability to strategically seek federal funding for projects available through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Legacy Act, and leverage that money with state funding through Minnesota’s Legacy Fund and Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund and other local resources.
The goal is to move the St. Louis River from an area of concern to an area of recovery by 2025.
The report was prepared for the Area of Concern Coordinating Team by the St. Louis River Alliance, a partner. Other members include the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Copies of this progress report are available at the St. Louis River Alliance and online at www.stlouisriver.org
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