Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bringing the Poop Back to the Polluter

Rex striking a pose at Super One
Back in December, I wrote this post about picking up pet waste.  Then, in April, we celebrated Scoop the Poop Week by handing out pet waste baggie dispensers that attach to your dog's leash.  We went to different spots in Superior and gave out information about pet waste disposal.  Rex, the Regional Stormwater Protection Team's mascot, came out to get everyone excited about picking up pet waste and preventing pollution.  Some other cities, it seems, have been taking that message and turning up the intensity. An article from Mother Nature Network (here) tells of cities DNA testing dogs so that they can link poo left in public back to the dog, returning the poop to the owner in a "Lost Property" box and publicly shaming residents who don't scoop the poop.  While it seems unlikely that we would do that in Superior, it certainly seems effective.  For now, though, if you need some help remembering to Scoop the Poop, stop by our offices at 51 E 1st Street and pick up a pet waste baggie dispenser.
Written by Jillian Edwards

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Good news: Mercury in lake sediments in the Great Lakes region is declining.  Mercury concentrations in fish and birds of the Great Lakes region have show an overall decline, too from 1967 to 2009.
Mercury concentrations in walleye, largemouth bass, and herring gull eggs from areas within the Great Lakes region.

Bad News: Mercury concentrations have increased in adult loon blood mercury in northern Wisconsin and bald eagles from Voyageurs National Park.

Meanwhile, we still do need to properly dispose of items that contain mercury. 
What could contain mercury?  The following products may contain mercury - thermometers, thermostats, blood-pressure cuffs, fluorescent and HID lamps, auto switches, button-cell batteries, dental amalgam, some imported jewelry, weight/counter weight in grandfather clocks, some oil-based and old latex paints.    Here are the Waste Water Treatment Plant in Superior we do accept mercury items anytime during business hours.  There is no fee to drop them off.   We will even give you a free thermostat if you'd like to thank you for dropping off items.

Pollution can be created locally but some happen on a larger scale - even an international scale - such as for the Great Lakes.  Emissions go where the air takes it.  The fact that mercury bio-accumulates also creates a problem when only low concentrations are present.  The best thing we can do is reduce use of mercury and properly dispose of it.

The information in the top section is from the  Great Lakes Mercury Connections report published by the Biodiversity Research Institute in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-LaCross and Great Lakes Commission.

Posted by Wendy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spring (summer?) has sprung!

Well, it looks like summer has decided to grace us with its presence after all.  I know many of us here in the Northland had our doubts.  For a lot of people, summer time means spending time outside, enjoying the few months we have of sun and green plants.  With this comes more water use and some potential for stormwater pollution.  I'll go into a little more detail below....
To begin, let's talk about your vehicle.  Summer is the time when many people cruise around, take their cars to shows, and take scenic drives on the weekends.  If your car gets dirty, you may be tempted to save a couple dollars and wash it in your driveway (after all, gas is expensive this time of year).  However, if you're washing your car with a bucket of water (or hose) and some soap in the driveway, all of that will go running down, past the sidewalk, into the road, and end up in the storm drains.  The majority of the storm drains in Superior don't end up at the treatment plant...they end up in Lake Superior, untreated.  If your car needs a wash, either take it to a local car wash that properly disposes of their used water or wash your car on the lawn.  This way, the water will sink into the ground and not run off.

Another way to prevent pollution outdoors is to use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers sparingly, as needed. Some water pollution problems could be prevented if products such as these were only used when needed and as sparingly as possible. When excess fertilizers run off into the storm drains, the water carrying the fertilizers ends up in the lake. This adds phosphorous to the water. Phosphorous is a limiting factor for algae growth, meaning that algae growth is kept in check because algae needs phosphorous (a nutrient) and there isn't an unlimited supply in nature. When stormwater filled with fertilizers ends up in our water bodies, phosphorous isn't limiting anymore, so the algae can grow unchecked. The algae use up much of the oxygen in the water and lead to "dead zones" where there is no oxygen for living things. 

In addition to preventing pollution during the summer months, there are many opportunities to save water outdoors.  For example, you could use a rain barrel to capture water and use it in on your lawn or flower beds.  Rain barrels keep water out of the storm sewer system and you don't have to pay for the water in them.  We do have some rain barrels still for sale; if you're interested, call us at 715-394-0392.  You'll be gettng the wholesale price, tax included.  Over 30% of the water we use is used outdoors and more than half of that is for the lawn and garden.  More than half of lawn/garden water is actually wasted.  This means there's a lot of potential for saving water.  Your lawn doesn't need to be watered every day, and you should never water in the middle of the day or when the forecast calls for rain.  We'll have a webinar about saving water in your yard and in your home on June 25th.  Register here: .

Preventing stormwater pollution and over use of water keeps our lakes and rivers healthier and less stressed.  Keep these tips in mind as you get ready to celebrate the warm weather.  Happy summer, everyone!

For more information, check out our webinar (linked above) or give us a call at 715-394-0392.
-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

Monday, June 10, 2013

Clean Sweep at the end of June

June 29 at the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds from 10 AM-2PM
Take time to clean out your medicine cabinets, garage, basement.

Free hazardous waste disposal accepted at the event - including oil-based paints, rechargeable batteries, mercury containing items, cell phones, and many more items.  See the link below for a longer list of what is accepted.  Dropping off some items will require a fee (tv, monitors, air conditioners, and a few other things).

Posted by Wendy

Rain barrel and compost sale pick up tomorrow!

Tomorrow, we will be at Wessman Arena from 12:30-7 PM distributing the rain barrels and compost bins from our sale.  If you have not purchased a rain barrel and/or compost bin, you can stop by any time and get one.  Supplies are limited, so act fast!

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-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Native Plant Night presentations available for viewing/listening

Native Plant Night was held May 21 at the Superior Public Library 

The presentations were recorded.  Feel free to listen and watch.  Thanks to all the speakers (Wild Ones, Leaning Pine Native Plant, SAMP City of Superior, and West Wisconsin Land Trust) and the organizations with booths (Wild Woods Rehab, Master Gardeners, Wild Ones, West Wi Land Trust).

The more native plants in the area - whether trees or small plants - the better for water quality and for native species that depend on native plants. 

Improving Wildlife Habitat/Wild Ones 
Listen  and watch on 
You Tube  (28 minutes)

Native Plants and Preservation/West Wisconsin Land Trust  
Listen and watch on
You Tube (22 minutes)

 Importance of Wetlands/City of Superior SAMP
Listen and watch on 
You Tube (22 minutes)

 Shoreline Erosion/Learning Pine Native Plant
Listen  and watch on 
You Tube (32 minutes) 
The program is also being shown on Superior Community Television.

Posted by Wendy