Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

If there's one thing people in the Northland care about, it's our water.  We love our rivers, streams and, of course, the big lake.

So when the conversation turns to things like polluted trout streams, setting acceptable levels of pollutants and how best to manage the three watersheds that make up the Duluth Urban Watershed, it's not surprising that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency wants to hear from folks up here on their proposals.

©Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Cleaning up Minnesota Slip - containing 2500 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and sealing it off - isn't the hard part.

Nor is repairing the dock walls lining the slip.

Not even getting the  610 feet by 60 feet by 32 foot SS William A Irvin out of the way so it can undergo some needed maintenance the hard part.

The hard part is figuring out how to do it at the same time.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

We speak with Nelson French, a supervisor for the Great Lakes/Lake Superior Project of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, about the completion of a three-year pilot project that used 350,000 cubic yards of sediment dredged from the Duluth Harbor Basin by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help restore aquatic habitat in the St. Louis River estuary.

St. Louis River Estuary

Diane Desotelle of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says it's a pretty good time to be a fish in the St. Louis River.

But it's going to get better. 

Through a network of unique partnerships and collaboration, the clean materials the US Army Corps of Engineers is dredging from ship channels in the harbor will be repurposed in the river to create better habitat for fish, including muskie, northern pike and walleye.

Seven tons of pollutants are no longer in Minnesota's atmosphere.

Put another way, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) partnership with small businesses has taken the equivalent of 13-thousand cans of spray paint out of the air.

And they've even helped pay for the retooling, distributing about $500,000 dollars in grants from the 2014 Minnesota legislature.

Eric David has the details.