State money needed to secure federal clean-up funds
The St. Louis River is the second largest tributary to Lake Superior. In 1987, the estuary at the river’s mouth – including the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior – was designated the St. Louis River Area of Concern (SLRAOC) by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement due to its sedimentary contamination. Caused by previous and current land use, the contamination of sediments includes elevated levels of metals, mercury, pesticides, and other pollutants. This pollution has caused imbalances in the ecosystem of the estuary, resulting in the degradation of bottom feeding vertebrates, fish tumors and other abnormalities, and fish consumption advisories.
There are also concerns that sediment from the St. Louis River could be transported to Lake Superior. Both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are working diligently to address this issue. The MPCA has requested $12 million in state-issued bonds to remove the pollutants, reverse habitat loss, and restore benefits that residents cannot currently enjoy.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative passed by Congress authorizes $47.5 million in federal funding to support this project. Minnesota must authorize the MPCA’s bonding request to leverage these federal dollars now or they will be lost. This proposal is critical for the health of our state and the legacy of clean water for generations to come. The environmental and economic future of the Great Lakes Region depends on investing in the St. Louis River clean-up today.