USA: Public Input Needed for St. Louis River ‘Area of Concern’

USA Public Input Needed for St. Louis River Area of Concern.

Nearly 30 years after being named an imperiled waterway, the St. Louis River has taken another big step closer to becoming healthier than it has been in a generation.

And St. Louis River users and enthusiasts are invited to comment on the plan designed to achieve the clean-up goals set in 1987 when it was named an Area of Concern as one of the 43 most-highly-contaminated areas on the Great Lakes.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and their partners have developed a plan to remove the first of nine impairments to the river’s health that have kept it from being suitable for habitat and recreational uses it should support.

The draft plan to remove the aesthetic impairment is being offered for public comment from July 3 through July 17, 2014. On July 10, the agencies will host an open house and informational event from 4:30 — 6 p.m. at the Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Ave., to share more information and take comments. The DNR and MPCA will submit the draft aesthetic impairment removal plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at the end of the public comment period.

The other eight beneficial use impairments are: restricted fish consumption, threats to fish and wildlife populations, loss of fish and wildlife habitat, incidences of fish tumors and deformities, lack of diversity among bottom-dwelling organisms, restrictions on dredging activities, decreased water quality due to high nutrient and sediment levels and high levels of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria that, when elevated, may generate advisories limiting beach water contact for swimmers and boaters.

Since 1987, the DNR, MCPA and other multi-level governmental and non-governmental partner agencies have collaborated to improve the quality of the entire estuary system.

The removal of the first beneficial use impairment is a critical milestone marking the progress and the work of all the partners.

The removal of the first beneficial use impairment is the latest in 30 years of significant environmental improvements on the St. Louis River. Among the most significant effort benefitting the river’s aesthetic quality are: improved municipal wastewater treatment facilities and significant reductions in sewage overflows, upgraded storm water infrastructure and polluted sites’ cleanups, including Wisconsin’s Hog Island inlet and Newton Creek.

Press Release, July 1, 2014