Duluth, District to Correct SSO Problems, Pay $400,000
The city of Duluth, Minn., and the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District have agreed to improve the area’s sewer system, estimated to cost about $130 million, to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) in an agreement filed on June 23 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minn., the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced.
Duluth and the district have also agreed to pay a combined penalty of $400,000 to be equally divided between the United States and the state of Minnesota. The agreement requires that the improvements to the system to eliminate SSOs be in place by 2016.
According to EPA, between 1999 and 2004, the city and the district experienced at least 250 SSOs. These overflows resulted in at least 47 million gallons of untreated sewage entering the St. Louis River and Lake Superior.
"Duluth and the sewer district worked with the federal and state governments to agree on a remedial plan and settlement that will protect water quality in the Duluth area without the need for expensive and time-consuming litigation," said John C. Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We are pleased the state of Minnesota joined us in this case, as such joint enforcement efforts have repeatedly proved effective in Clean Water Act cases."
The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District provides sewer service to 18 communities and services a population of about 130,000. Duluth, with a population of 90,000, is the largest community served by the district.
The consent decree, lodged on June 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice Web site at www.usdog.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.