Written by Sam Horner, Northeast YES! Coordinator
Last Friday, the Harbor City International School YES! Team went to the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District to learn about all the things they do to keep Duluth clean and healthy. The team was able to learn about their Compost and Landfill Site, and their Wastewater Treatment Plant. After learning everything that they do at this facility, I believe the students and I had a great respect for everyone at this facility.
We were greeted by Sarah Lerohl, an Environmental Program Coordinator. Due to the fact that it was below 0 degrees outside, Sarah walked us through how they take in trash and material to be composted. The trash is sorted and brought to the landfill in Superior for storage. The compost material is brought to a big pile where everything is broken down. They ensure that everything that could be harmful is killed off by their specific process. The compost material is then sold to people to be used in their gardens as fertilizer. Even with it being so cold out, the compost pile was steaming, because it was working so hard. After this quick introduction to the landfill and composting, we moved onto the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
WLSSD works very hard to make sure that all the wastewater that they bring in will be safe to release back into Lake Superior. Sarah talked about how they bring all the sewage water from Duluth and water from different factories to be cleaned. They serve a 500 mile area surrounding Duluth. This wastewater is brought in and goes through many different cleaning processes. We were shown how the water must go through all the different filters and how it takes place in multiple buildings. After the water is cleaned, it will be released into Lake Superior. One interesting fact, the EPA has a presence in Duluth. They realized that they need to do their water tests far away from WLSSD, because the water coming out of the facility was so clean that it was throwing their experiments off.
Lastly, we talked to several workers about how they liked their positions at WLSSD. Everyone was beaming about the work that they do at the plant. They felt that they were making a difference for their communities and they really were doing that. They let the students know that this could be a great career for them in the future. All in all, the trip to Western Lake Superior Sanitary was a great success and one that hopefully left the students inspired to make sure they do their part to keep Duluth clean!
Major funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).