Friday, May 31, 2013

Storm Drain Stenciling Helpers Wanted

Volunteers are wanted to help stencil local storm drains in Superior

The City of Superior would appreciate it if local organizations would help with stenciling storm drains.  Environmental Services Division will provide all the supplies needed to mark the drains with the message “Do Not Dump  - Drains to Stream. “   Two general public times are being announced but we can also work with groups to fit a time that works for them.   By having only rain and melting go down storm drains our local streams and Lake Superior will be cleaner.

The public times include

 Thursday, June 13 at 9 AM.  Meeting place is Fairlawn Mansion parking lot.

Thursday, July 18 at 1 PM at Central Park pavilion on the west side.

The stenciling session duration will be for about an hour and a half.  Individuals, families, youth groups, adult groups, seniors, church groups, work place teams, etc are welcome.   Please RSVP so that we can prepare the materials needed.  Children must be 9 years old.    We would like to mark 200 drains this summer and early fall.  Storm drain stenciling can only be done during dry weather. By having only rain and snow melt go down storm drains our local streams and Lake Superior will be cleaner.

For more information:  City of Superior Environmental Services Division 715/394-0392 ext. 1041.

Written by Wendy Grethen

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Will It Flush? And Better Yet, Should You Flush It?

Last week, we finished up our 5th grade tours of the Wastewater Treatment Plant.  We gave tours to close to 300 students.  Teachers and chaperones came too.  You can learn more about the tours here.  One thing I told the students is that the first step of the process is the bathroom...or the kitchen....or wherever you are using water in your house.  Once the water arrives here, large items are screened out.  Throughout the process, you can see some of the things that the screens were not able to capture right away.  There are all sorts of nasty things in the water; I won't go into detail, but we should all know not to flush them.  The kids were surprised to see some of these things that clearly shouldn't be flushed floating around in our wastewater.  However, it's not always so clear what we should and should not flush.  Sometimes, something will flush, but will get caught and clog your pipes.  Check out the video below from the City of Spokane and WEF to see why flushing things that you shouldn't can be a big problem for you and for the City. 

-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rain Barrels, Compost Bins, and Kitchen Collectors are still available!

We have a limited number of rain barrels, compost bins, and kitchen collectors still available for you to order!  Call us at 715-394-0392 if you're interested.

-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Messages around town

We have a couple displays up around town.  Since March we have been having a monthly poster at the movie theater at the Mariner Mall.  Have you noticed them?  The topics have been on pet waste, then rain barrels, and this month has been on several ways you can make a difference reducing stormwater runoff and preventing pollution.  Next month's topic will be on the pharmaceutical dropbox program.  Please do not flush old medicines down the toilet.  Bring them to the Superior Police Station.  The medicines will be incinerated rather than coming to the wastewater treatment plant which can not remove most of the chemicals. 

Another place we have material out in Superior is at the Government Center.  The display was switched last week to rain gardens/rain barrels/compost.  There are complimentary buttons on the table relating to rain barrels and garden topics.  Pamphlets are also there.  As a reminder our Environmental Matters webinar series has included a presentation on using plants to reduce stormwater runoff, one on rain barrels, and one on compost.  Today's presentation at noon is on Terrific Trees.  Registration to be in a webinar (it's free and easy to do) and access to listen to archived programs are at

We had a gorgeous holiday weekend.  The sun was out most of the time.  We'll be watching the forecast this week as we want it to stay dry so we can go with 5th graders from Northern Lights Elementary to stenciling next to storm drains near their school.  We will be with 100 students and seek to mark 100 drains with the message that the storm drains drain directly to a stream.  The goal is only rain down the drain.  No motor oil, no pet waste, no grass clippings.   We will also be seeking helpers from the community to mark additional drains this summer.  Send us an email if you are interested.  We'll supply everything.  

We also plan to be at the Farmers Markets in Superior.  There is a Wednesday lunch market next to the Superior Public Library and the Saturday market on Barkers Island.  You may sign up to help with storm drain stenciling in upcoming weeks at these events.

Finally, do you love the Northern Lights?  We have a beautiful Northern Lights post card announcing Lake Superior Day July 21 (3rd Sunday in July).  We have some to share here at the Waste Water Treatment Plant.  Stop in at the office or call us.  We will be putting together Lake Superior Day celebration activities to be held during that week.  There will also be an exhibit at the Superior Public Library on Lake Superior.  When we reduce stormwater runoff we help keep Lake Superior clean.  Feel free to come up with your own way of celebrating Lake Superior and ways to keep the lake clean. 

Posted by Wendy

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Plants, Gardens, Compost - the season is coming, the time is now

There's a bit of a rain shower going on now in Superior.  The temperatures are slowing going up and putting us into GARDEN MODE.  Coming up at noon today will be a webinar on the Basics of Composting.  We all can do it and encourage others to compost in their yards.  It's not too difficult and having a bin will help keep it even more tidy.  If you miss the webinar you can watch it later at your convenience at   Later in May (on May 28) we will have one on Terrific Trees.  On Tuesday, May 21 Native Plant Night will be held at the Superior Public Library at 6 p.m. 
Four guest speakers will be coming in and talking about native plants and there will be booths for more information.  

I'll put in a plug for the Duluth Community Garden Program who is having their seed and transplant sale coming up on Friday, May 24 in the evening, and Saturday, May 25.  More information is at  

Also, on Saturday May 25 at the Rose Garden parking lot in Duluth, numerous community garden clubs will have a mix of plants for sale.  It's always fun to learn more about plants.   It's neat to dream about the array of flowers that will bloom over the summer and the variety of leaves, colors, textures, and aromas that plants add to a yard and to our lives.   Here in the Environmental Services Division we also know there is value to native plants - especially when set up in a rain garden.  Meanwhile, trees and shrubs also beautify places and also offer wildlife habitat and even food for bees and critters. 

Notice how this blog now has a calendar.  We will add our events in that format to help keep you better informed. 

Finally, coming up tomorrow on May 15 is Fairlawn's Garden Market taking place at the Armory in Superior.  The event will run from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.  We have donated a rain barrel to be part of drawings that will be held during the day.  Stop by our booth.  Rain barrels, rain gardens, and compost are our topics of the day.

Warmer days are ahead. 

Posted by Wendy

Monday, May 6, 2013

Educational opportunities

Last week, Wendy wrote a post about bringing 5th graders in to tour the wastewater treatment plant (it even made the newspaper).  We offer educational opportunities to groups of all kinds, ages, and sizes.  In addition to wastewater treatment plant tours, we can do presentations about just about anything relating to stormwater, wastewater, or pollution.  We're also always looking for groups to help with storm drain stenciling, which is a fun, outdoor activity designed to remind people that water going down storm drains isn't treated before entering lakes and streams.  Basically, if you can dream it up (and it has to do with water), we can try to make it happen.  We could even do a webinar presentation on a topic if you didn't want one in person.
Another resource is our educational material.  If you want to learn a bit more about water, you can visit the "Educational Material" tab on this blog.  I've uploaded information for adults in addition to fun activities for kids.  If you would like to work with us or want more information about a particular subject, please let us know!  You can call 715-394-0392 and ask for Jillian or Wendy.  Otherwise, send an email to Jillian or Wendy.

-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Recycling water at the Waste Water Treatment Plant

We are the middle of giving tours to 5th graders at schools in Superior.  The busload of youth come in and we give them the tour - step by step - what happens to the influent (the incoming water) before it is prepared to leave the plant and head out to Lake Superior. 

We've also been doing an indoor component to their time here - putting the steps of the treatment in order and playing Jeopardy - water style.   We're glad to give tours to groups and people who are in interested in learning about what goes on here in these little 'village' of buildings and tanks.   We think it's cool!    We're glad to be a part of cleaning water and, on the education side, to give reminders about how we can prevent pollution.   The toilet isn't a trash can - so please make sure you are not putting down household hazardous waste, pharmaceuticals, rags, toys, etc.  

The treatment process has come along way since the plant opened in 1955.   More steps to clean since then are allowing cleaner water to be released.  Also, the new addition this past fall of using UV light to do the final cleaning of the water has replaced chlorinated the water and future environmental issues that could have occurred from the release of chlorine heading out in the lake. 

We will be setting up some public open tours in July during the week prior to Lake Superior Day but if you have a group that would be interested, give us a call at 715-394-0392 and we can set something up.  You can watch the water flow through step after step and see the 'outs' along the way, including the final sludge. 

The plant is about doing what nature would do to clean the water.  We all can learn a lot from nature.

Posted by Wendy Grethen