WLSSD Celebrates 40 Years of Clean Water Operations

WLSSD Celebrates 40 Years of Clean Water Operations


DULUTH, MN – Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) attained a milestone in clean water operations this week with the 40th anniversary of the startup of its wastewater treatment plant. In celebration, WLSSD will hold an open house on Saturday, October 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at WLSSD’s 27th Avenue West campus in Duluth with activities suitable for all ages. WLSSD will also be offering walking and bus tours for those who preregister.


“Reaching this milestone is not just a measure of our success, but the success of our community,” said executive director Marianne Bohren. “Our employees, legislators, residents, cities and towns and the regional industries we serve have worked together to protect and improve the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. This anniversary marks 40 years of progress in the restoration of the St. Louis River and protection of Lake Superior—resources that are incredibly important to public health, our economy and quality of life.”


WLSSD began operating its state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant on the St. Louis River in September 1978. Prior to its opening, untreated and under-treated sewage was discharged into the river from cities and industries, causing serious pollution in the River and Bay. Soon after the startup of the treatment plant, water quality in the river noticeably improved and the native fishery was on the rebound. Today, the waters of the St. Louis River are once again popular for recreational fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking and other activities.


WLSSD consistently discharges a high quality effluent that exceeds state and federal standards and its successful, innovative pollution prevention programs are models for other communities across the country.


“As we celebrate success today, we are also ready to meet the challenges, opportunities and uncertainties ahead,” continued Bohren. “With creativity, perseverance and continued local and state commitment, we’ll continue to provide exceptional wastewater treatment as well as contributing to a clean energy future. One thing is certain – we will meet these challenges as we have in the past – with passion, dedication and innovation.”


The Minnesota legislature established the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District May 22, 1971 under MN §458D.03, Subd. 1“for the protection of the public health, safety and welfare of the area, for the preservation and best use of waters, land, and other natural resources of the state in the area, for the prevention, control and abatement water pollution and disposal of solid waste in the area, and for the efficient and economic collection, treatment, and disposal of sewage and solid waste…” This enabling legislation was authored and championed by Minnesota State Representative Willard Munger of Duluth.


Celebrating 40 years of operations in 2018, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District provides award-winning wastewater and solid waste services within a 530 square mile service area and is a nationally recognized leader in pollution prevention. Governed by a nine-member citizen board, WLSSD is a special purpose subdivision of the State of Minnesota. Its legislative service area includes the cities of Duluth, Cloquet, Carlton, Scanlon, Wrenshall, Hermantown, Proctor, Rice Lake and Thomson and the townships of Silverbrook, Twin Lakes, Canosia, Duluth, Grand Lake, Lakewood, Midway and Solway.