Pollution prevention starts at
home, campaign says
Local officials launch a public education campaign addressing
By John Myers
Duluth News Tribune
School kids have been spreading the message for years,
stenciling storm drains to remind people that what runs
off their yards and down their streets often ends up in
rivers and lakes.
Adults, however, haven't been getting the message as
well as expected.
That's why a coalition of local governments, state agencies
and universities are forming the Regional Stormwater Protection
Team. They're working with college art students to create
an advertising campaign reminding the public that personal
The campaign, which will feature a new logo and radio
and television ads, should be in full swing by next spring,
said Marnie Lonsdale, Duluth's stormwater program manager.
The campaign is funded by a $27,000 grant from the Lake
Superior Coastal Program.
Everyone needs to know that they live, work and play
in watersheds, Lonsdale said, because whatever they do
on land has an impact on some waterway. In the Duluth
area, there are 42 streams, including 12 designated trout
"We have so many beautiful streams in this town,"
but many people don't know where they are, Lonsdale said.
"We need to change that. We need to get people to
understand that what they do in their driveway and their
yard and their street affects the local stream and, eventually,
Pollution sources are numerous. Dog droppings are a big
source of bacteria such a fecal coliform. Animal feces
on Duluth's hillside eventually finds its way into street
gutters, storm sewers, creeks, St. Louis Bay and Lake
Superior. They might have been a factor in this summer's
City surveys are showing that bacteria levels in the
upper reaches of Duluth streams meet or exceed those in
the harbor and Lake Superior.
Leaves and grass clippings, when improperly disposed,
carry pollutants into waterways and over-fertilize streams.
Engine oil and gas from leaky vehicles -- or worse, from
intentional dumping -- remain major pollutants.
Grit and sand can clog spawning beds and carry pollution.
Development is a constant assault on local streams.
"We would like people to understand how the watershed
system works and to learn to identify and report questionable
discharges," said Dick Larson, Duluth public works
The temperature of water also is an issue. Hot blacktop
and roofs raise it beyond the level at which some trout
species can survive. Slowing and cooling runoff can help
keep streams in the trout's comfort range.
Others involved in the project include Superior, Proctor,
Hermantown, St. Louis County, Western Lake Superior Sanitary
District, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, South St.
Louis Soil and Water Conservation District, UMD's Natural
Resources Research Institute, UWS, Minnesota Sea Grant,
the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, the Minnesota Department
of Transportation, Duluth Township and the St. Louis River
Citizen's Action Committee.
For more information, see www.duluthstreams.org.