Environmental services division staff from the city of Superior are bringing field trips to students this year, offering video tours and educational segments online.

“We’ve got to get the information out to kids,” said Megan Hogfeldt, water resource specialist.

Every spring, the city of Superior’s wastewater treatment plant opens its doors to fifth graders from the Superior School District. In 2019, roughly 300 students were bussed in to boost their water literacy with a tour. This year, the annual event was a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To get their message out, Hogfeldt and water resource program coordinator Andrea Crouse put together a script, grabbed a video camera and created a virtual field trip of the facility in about two weeks. They tried to keep things simple, aiming the production at students in grades K-6.

The 26-minute tour of the wastewater treatment plant dropped on YouTube May 26 and was featured on the Environmental Services Division Facebook page June 11. It was followed up with a 13-minute tour of the Poplar Wetland Basin Aug. 24.

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Wednesday, Sept. 2, Hogfeldt turned the camera lens on the city’s newest storm drain mural at the corner of North 61st Street and John Avenue. Featuring a trio of bears, it provided a backdrop to a new one-minute video segment about stormwater.

“Storm drains are a direct connection to our local waterways,” Hogfeldt said. “Anything that goes down that storm drain could potentially end up in Lake Superior.”

Megan Hogfeldt, the City of Superior’s Water Resource Specialist, points to the storm drain as she talks to the camera while shooting an educational video near Bryant Elementary School in south Superior Wednesday, Sept. 2. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Megan Hogfeldt, the City of Superior’s Water Resource Specialist, points to the storm drain as she talks to the camera while shooting an educational video near Bryant Elementary School in south Superior Wednesday, Sept. 2. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Hogfeldt pointed out that stormwater speeds up on impervious surfaces like sidewalks and roadways and soaks into pervious surfaces, like lawns and forests.

The new video will be featured on the division's Facebook page once it’s done. Future segments may feature information on combined sewers and sewers in general.

The online messages are also part of the division’s community outreach. During a typical summer, staff would set up an information table at local events or hold events of their own to highlight everyday ways people can protect the watershed — from picking up after your dog to adopting a storm drain. This year, they’re shifting those resources online.

The new mural, created by Bonnie Newman, is one of three that are planned for this fall. The murals will join 12 others scattered throughout Superior. Six were painted in 2014, another six in 2018.

There was no big call for artists this year, Hogfeldt said. Instead, the three artists reached out to her. Some have asked to paint the storm drains they have adopted.

“It’s been pretty cool, people just approach me,” Hogfeldt said. “I’m pretty jazzed about it.”

Currently, 40 of the city’s 3,000 storm drains have been adopted. Anyone interested in maintaining their neighborhood storm drain can contact Hogfeldt at 715-394-0392 ext.1033 or hogfeldtm@ci.superior.wi.us. A brochure showing the storm drain art and where it’s located is available online through the city's website.