Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Closed on the 28th and 29. Happy Thanksgiving!

The office will be closed Thursday and Friday for the holiday.  Please be sure to keep the turkey grease out of the drain.  Enjoy the food with family and friends. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sewer Overflows are a Mess - Don't Put Extra Stuff in the Toilet

Some Things
Don't Belong
in the Toilet

We want to make sure our community is aware that disposable does not mean flushable.  It is best to keep items all items beyond toilet paper and you know what out of the toilet.  Hair, toys, candy wrappers, rags, baby wipes, kitty litter, rubber items like latex gloves, cigarette butts and disposable toilet brushes should not be flushed.  Send those items to the trash can. 

It may seem like these items would not cause a problem.  However, clogs can and do happen.  Then it can be an unfortunate mess coming up from your toilet bowl - beyond what a plunger can mend.
We don't want problems further down the line either - which again can be expensive and a hassle.  Even if you are not on city sewer and have a septic service the items should still not be flushed.
Homeowners are responsible for their property's sewer pipes.  Improper flushing can lead to an extra bill for you to pay and you probably don't want that.  

A reminder too that household hazardous waste and medicines should also not be flushed.  Unwanted medicines should be brought to the Superior Police Station which has a medicine dropbox.  Medicines that comes through the sewer line to the wastewater treatment plant is not necessarily removed and can then go right out the Superior Bay - which is where our drinking water also comes from.  Measurable amounts of medicines have been found in streams and the Great Lakes.
Drugs in water   And, there are many examples of this!

Household hazardous waste should be brought to WLSSD in Duluth at 27th Ave W. and the waterfront. Their contact information is (218)722-0761.  Just because something is liquid doesn't mean it should go down a drain.  Some toxic chemicals can create a problem with the treatment process.   Many of the household hazardous waste items (HHW) can actually be recycled or, the Product Reuse Center at WLSSD is a great way to let someone else use the product, such as leftover paint.   We can all look for and use safe alternatives to products, like making your own non-toxic cleaners.
Thanks for helping to keep the sewer system working fine.  Treating wastewater is what we do and we need your help to not disrupt the good bacteria that are the workers helping to clean the water before we release it into the bay.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

World Toilet Day

Did you know that today is World Toilet Day?  This holiday was created to bring awareness to the fact that billions of people do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation.  This leads to illness, death, and less education for women. Let the toilet below explain.

While we're lucky enough to have an abundance of clean water and the technology to clean our wastewater, we shouldn't be complacent.  We need to ensure that we have clean water far into the future, so make use of our water saving tips here or watch our webinar about it here.

-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recycling - Reducing and Reusing

Thanks to those who attended the Recycling program last Thursday evening.  It was good to have a full room and lots of questions for the local experts presenting about recycling.  The more each of us knows then we can more properly dispose of items.  Many things can be recycled these days - used oil, household hazardous waste,  mercury-containing items,  plastics, metals, and paper.  The amount of recycling is going up.  Meanwhile, it's good to have REDUCE and REUSE be part of everyone's vocabulary and actions.  Can we use our own -re-usable bags?  Can we put usable unwanted items at places like the Superior Re-Use Center at the Superior Landfill or at the Re-Store Habitat for Humanity Store or Goodwill?   Toys, clothes, kitchen accessories and many other items might be just what someone else is looking for.    Paint, stains, and other household hazardous waste can be dropped off at no charge at WLSSD's ReUse Center.  It's also a place people can go to pick up things for free.
Remember some items are banned from the landfill.  Stop in here for accessing information about our landfill.  Here is our disposal guide.  People in Douglas Co. can learn more about recycling from the Douglas Co. Recycling Coordinator. 
  One of the largest man-made structures in the world is the Fresh Kills Landfill on the East Coast.  It's closed now and other landfills have closed and all have limited life spans.  The Superior Municipal Landfill with its five cells extends high up as more and more trash is added from Superior, from Duluth, from Ashland and other sites.

A recent article in the Duluth News Tribune summarized a study through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.   This is a summary report of the study.  Page 9 is especially interesting as it's the breakdown of the categories.

Go to some of the links provided to keep learning about proper disposal of waste and all the opportunities with recycling.  The final links I'd like to share are two sites that let you search on topics about recycling and where some items can be recycled.

If you would like help raise money through recycling for groups in town keep an ear out.  An aluminum can drop-off cage is along Belknap by Subway.  The high school has a glossy paper pickup. Perhaps people can start their own fundraising through recycling.  There also is a clothing and shoe US Again green bin near the corner of Belknap and Hill.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Let's Talk Recycling - Nov 14 at 6 p.m.

What:  Let’s Talk Recycling

When: November 14 (Thursday) at 6 p.m.

Where: Superior Public Library, classroom, 1530 Tower Ave.

More Information:  Environmental Services of City of Superior.  715-394-0392

Come over on November 14 at 6 p.m. at the Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Ave, to attend the event:  Let’s Talk Recycling.  We’ll talk plastics, paper, but also other items that have been considered ‘waste’ but are recyclable and some that can be an environmental health issue if placed in the trash.   Speakers will include Mary Klun, Douglas County Recycling Coordinator; Steve Christen “The Recycle Guy” AA Roll-off; Dan Hartel, Hartel’s DBJ; and Wendy Grethen, City of Superior Environmental Services.   Each presenter will give a short presentation and then there will be time for questions.  About 167,962 tons of waste came in to the Superior Municipal Landfill in the last year.  Quite a bit of the content could have been recycled and some items could have been reused.  Good news is that 875 mattresses were recycled and 68.5 tons of tires were recycled.  Our decisions as consumers and our waste disposal habits can result in part of the problem but also in creating a solution to reducing waste. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Office Closed Monday November 11

Reminder: Our offices are closed Monday, November 11 for Veteran's Day.  If you notice stormwater pollution or an illicit discharge, you can call the stormwater hotline at 715-394-2761 and we will respond when we return on Tuesday, November 12.  In the meantime, if you're looking for a learning opportunity, look around the blog and website or visit one of our displays at the Mariner Mall or Blaine Business Center (by the Center for Muscle and Joint Therapy entrance).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Low Impact Development and Green Infrastructure

Image via Ryan Somma
It’s getting a little gray and dreary out there right now, so it seems like a good time to talk about green things!  Green infrastructure, for example.  Green infrastructure uses natural processes to manage stormwater in cities (US EPA).  Low impact development refers to using green infrastructure techniques on new land developments and redevelopments.  The EPA has a comprehensive website about green infrastructure with information about techniques, benefits, and resources located at
Some techniques that you can employ to manage stormwater on site as a homeowner are things that we’ve mentioned several times in the past.  One simple example is downspout redirection.  All this entails is redirecting your roof’s downspout from draining onto impervious area to draining into a rain barrel or pervious area (i.e. your yard).  When you redirect into a rain barrel, you can store the water for use later.  Rain barrel water is good for plants and doesn’t cost you anything.  Rain barrels are fairly simple to make or can be purchased when the City or WLSSD has a sale.  Learn more about rain barrels here (webinar), here, and here.
Redirecting your downspout into a pervious area (your yard) instead of letting it flow down your driveway and into the storm sewer is a good option if rain barrels aren’t allowed in your area or you don’t want to make/purchase one.  This allows the water to soak in rather than run off. 
Rain gardens are also known as bioretention cells and are a good way to put the rain to a good, aesthetically pleasing use.  Rain gardens are built into shallow depressions.  If you’re thinking about building one in your yard, look at where water pools naturally when it rains.  That would be a good spot for a rain garden.  You should use native plants because they are hardier and cost less to maintain.  They also provide food and habitat for native insect and animal species.  Learn more here, here, here (webinar) and here.
Green roofs (like the one that can be seen in the picture above or here at UW Superior’s Yellowjacket Union) are an option for homeowners, too.   Green roofs are a layer of vegetation over a waterproofed roof.  Green roofs are typically used on roofs that don’t have much of a slope and the plant/water weight must be considered before installation.  For more information, go here and here.
Many other LID and green infrastructure techniques are used on a neighborhood or city-wide basis rather than by individual homeowners.  Examples of techniques used include: vegetated swales, smaller sidewalks, narrower roads, pervious pavement (although you can do this at home too!), and natural feature protection.

There is a lot of information about green infrastructure and low impact development; look around and see what kinds of techniques you could use.

-Written by Jillian Schubert Edwards