Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Salt & Sand Use in the Winter

Winter is Here! We have gotten a few winter storms now and experienced some icy conditions. With that, out comes the salt and sand on pavement to prevent slips and falls. Salt is tried and true way to melt ice and sand adds traction during the really cold conditions. These are great ways to improve safety on roads, sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots, but they do come at a cost . . . to the environment. Sand adds excess sediment to our waters that can smother habitat for aquatic organisms. Salt is a chemical that is toxic to aquatic life at high concentrations. Salt stays in the water virtually forever and can only be removed by reverse osmosis. While we do not discourage the use of salt and sand, we promote the conservative use as to not be harmful to our waterways.

Friendly reminders on salt and sand use:
  • Sand provides traction, does not melt snow and ice
  • Mechanical removal snow is the best way to avoid icy build-ups (salt NOT effective with 3 inches of snow accumulation)
  • Do not apply salt/sand mix. Use salt and salt separately as necessary, depending on condition
  • Salt needs TIME to work (at 15F, one pound of salt needs 60 mins to melt 6 lbs of ice) 
  • Apply sand in extreme cold when salt is ineffective.
  • Salt (Sodium Chloride) is only effective at or above 15F
  • Store salt and sand in a covered container indoors. 
  • When applying salt, go for the pattern below:  

*General rule of thumb for salt use: 1 pound of salt fits into a 12 oz coffee mug and is enough to cover 60-70 feet of sidewalk or 20 feet of driveway. You can always add more salt if needed*
For more info, visit https://www.wisaltwise.com/
Have a safe and happy winter!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fats, Oils, and Greese!

We are entering the holiday season, hooray! With that comes tasty home-cooked meals prepared with lots of love (i.e. fats and oils from dairy and meat products). Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) may add great flavor to our holiday foods, but they are a problem for our sanitary sewer systems. When flushed down the sink, FOG's congeal and build up inside pipes, constricting flow of wastewater. This then leads to unwanted back-ups and overflows of untreated sewage.

Grease is a frequent cause of blocked pipes. Mixing hot water and soap may cause FOG's to "melt" in you sink, it quickly reforms into a solid blockage in pipes.

Prevent FOG Problems by:
x Don't pour oil or grease down the drain
x Don't run water over dishes, pots and pans to wast grease down the drain
x Don't was food scraps down the drain
* Do place cooled fats, oils, and grease into sealed container and discard in the garbage
* Do dry wipe grease from dishes before washing
* Do scrap food scraps from dishes into the garbage can. 
Grease-clogged pipe!
Other plumbing tips for the Holidays: 
  • Avoid putting stringy, fibrous or starchy waste in the garbage disposal. They cannot be sufficiently broken down. 
  • Make sure the disposal is running when you put food into it. Don't wait until it's full to turn it on. 
  • It's a good idea to wait 15 minutes between showers so waste moving through your plumbing has an adequate amount of time to disperse. 
  • Avoid toilet clogs by only flushing human waste and toilet paper . . . nothing else!
  • Know your limits. Often, minor plumbing problems turn into plumbing catastrophes if not handled properly. 
Did you know:  One turkey can produce one pound of waste fats, oils, and grease! 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Celebrate 25 Years of the Pollution Prevention Act!!

This year is exciting since we are celebrating 25 years of the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. Pollution was such a problem that the Environmental Protection Agency created the Pollution Prevention Act to have pollution prevented or reduced at the source whenever possible. Read about P2 at EPA's website

Pollution Prevention reduces Financial costs (waste management and cleanup) and Environmental costs (health problems, damages). Pollution Prevention not only protects our environment, but also strengthens our community.

September 21 through 27 is Pollution Prevention week!

Here are some Pollution Prevention practices:
  • Use reusable water bottles instead of throw-aways
  • Turning off lights when not in use
  • Repairing leaky faucets and hoses
  • Using non-toxic or "green" cleaners
  • Properly dispose of household hazardous waste (old electronics, paint, etc. SHOULD go to WLSSD)
  • Help clean up litter - any litter on the streets or yard will eventually find its way into a nearby stream
  • Sweep up yard waste - excess grass clippings are pollutants! 
  • Report any illicit discharge/dumping in the City of Superior: http://www.ci.superior.wi.us/illicitdischarge

You can . . .


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Time is Now!!

Summer is in full swing! The grass is growing, and the trees are full of green. That leads to the problem with yard waste.

The Solution: Compost!! 

Compost is a nutrient-rich soil amendment, created by the natural decomposition of kitchen and yard waste. It is the best and easiest method for getting rid of yard waste as yard waste is BANNED from the landfill.

Compost also reduces water pollution. Organic wastes, such as grass clippings and leaves, contribute to non-point source pollution (that's pollution that enters the waters in diffuse sources, such as runoff from streets). When yard waste decomposes in the water excess nutrients are released and oxygen is depleted. . . making a horrible environment for aquatic life.

Composting is Good!!

Here is the basic formula for making compost:

One of the important things to remember about home composting is that you want to make the critters that do the all work happy. Summer can dry up a compost pile, so it is important to make sure there is moisture in your pile (as wet as a wrung-out sponge). 

Visit our "Composting" tab for more examples of compost ingredients.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ban the Bead!

On May 22, 2015, the California Assembly passed the world's strongest legislation to ban microbeads. The state would ban not only synthetic particles but the biodegradable plastic as well. Other states - Illinois, New Jersey, Colorado, and Maine - have passed similar laws banning microbeads, but leave loopholes for biodegradable plastics.  

Plastic Microbeads 101:
What are Microbeads?: Microbeads are nasty little bits of plastic smaller than 2 millimeters. They are used frequently in personal care products (toothpaste, soaps, cosmetics, etc.) as exfoliates or for added texture.
Examples of amount of plastic in products

Why should I care?: There is no proven benefit of plastic microbeads in personal care products. There are natural exfoliants (that work better), but plastic microbeads are cheaper for manufacturers. Unlike natural alternatives, plastic microbeads ARE NOT biodegradable and are harmful to the environment.
How are they harmful?: Microbeads are literally microns in size and are NOT removed in our wastewater treatment process. Once in the water, microbeads, like other plastics, can absorb persistent toxic chemicals commonly found in waters across the state and can be mistaken for food by small fish and wildlife.  
What can I do?: Avoid products with these ingredients: polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate.
The good news: Several companies - Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, The Body Shop, and L’Oreal – have all made commitments to phase out the use of microbeads in their products. Many states are working on legislation to ban plastic microbeads. Yay!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Story of Sewage in Superior

Go to the Environmental Services Division page


and click on the History tab to open a page that has a slide show (pdf file) on sewage treatment in the early days of Superior, including when there was over 40,000 people living in town.  In the beginning there was none - no treatment.  Raw sewage regularly went out to local rivers and to Lake Superior.  It wasn't until 1958 that this facility opened.  Improvements in cleaning the wastewater have been added over the years.   The wastewater treatment plant is one big part to help keep local waters clean and healthy for aquatic organisms and for us! 

It was interesting to see the controversy in place and how many people felt a treatment plant wasn't necessary.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 19 (Tuesday) program on Water Treatment in Superior (Waste and Drinking Water)

We hope you will attend a program planned for Tuesday, May 19 at 5 p.m. at the Superior Public Library.

Event:   A Closer Look at Water Treatment in Superior, WI
How is it done in Superior?  Drinking Water Treatment and Wastewater Treatment

 We use water everyday.  Water arrives to our homes, schools, and businesses and wastewater will leave from these places.  Attend the approximately one hour program where Superior Water Light & Power will present a closer look at drinking water treatment in Superior and Superior Environmental Services will present about what is done with wastewater to treat it before discharging it back into Superior Bay.   You will also learn about improvements  over the years for better treatment and develop a better understanding on infrastructure in place to have the treatment possible. Finally, you will also take home simple tips on how you can be a part of helping prevent pollution in Lake Superior and conserve water. It would not be a good thing to not have these important services running properly in Superior yet for many decades the services didn’t exist for the early people settling in Superior.   Human health and environmental health are in part connected to proper drinking water treatment and wastewater treatment.  

Any questions?  Call (715)394-0392 or email grethenw@ci.superior.wi.us City of Superior Environmental Services.


Have you been to www.superiorstormwater.blogspot.com lately? 


Visit our Facebook page or Twitter.  SuperiorESDPW


Friday, May 8, 2015


What do you think sludge looks like?  The wastewater treatment involves multiple steps to take out materials, including total suspended solids, from the water that will be released into Lake Superior.  It's a Friday and a good day for photos. 

Here are a few:

Here are 4 samples : Influent - what comes into the plant - it's mostly water.
Primary effluent - after treatment through the primary clarifiers
Aeration Basin sample - this is using the activated sludge with lots of organisms
Effluent - is what is released into Lake Superior
Which sample do you think has the highest TSS (total suspended solids)? 
The correct answer is the Aeration Basin sample.  It would likely have one about 2000 mg/L.  The other values could be about 250 for the influent (note: that sample is looking a bit darker than usual.  It wasn't collected that day), 100 mg/L in the primary effluent and the effluent would be about 10 mg/L.
Here is a view of the Belt Filter Press. The sludge cake are the solids that were concentrated and then removed.  These are what the organisms didn't consume but the organisms do help to greatly reduce the organic materials.   The sludge cake doesn't smell.  It is not of good enough quality to be used on farm fields.  It is trucked the landfill.  Trucks also leave here carrying debris trapped at the screen building and the through the grit chamber. 
Here are our new Huber Step Screens that were installed this winter. They are shiny and new and do the incredible work of removing materials down to 1/8".  Our previous screens only removed down to 1/4".  We are happy to report they are doing well. 
Here is an inside look.
With looking closely you can see a goldfish and a bandaid among the debris. 
Speaking of goldfish.  We do have a goldfish here that we've put in effluent and she is doing fine.  She likes to visit with the students when they come.  Her name is
Sue R. Plant.
Remember, the effluent is not drinkable but it's safe for swimming and safe for fish and aquatic organisms.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Wastewater Treatment Tours for Superior students in 5th grade start this week

The warmer weather is here and we're eagerly awaiting Superior's 5th graders to come tour the Wastewater Treatment Plant.   We are glad that Four Corners, Cathedral, Lake Superior, Great Lakes, Cooper and Bryant Schools will be coming over the next few weeks.  The tours will last 2 hours and include and indoor portion where the students will act out wastewater treatment and participate in interactive quizzes about the treatment process and the importance of knowing what not to flush and that stormwater, in most cases in Superior, does NOT come here for treatment but rather flows out to local streams untreated.  The outdoor portion is walking through the steps just as the water would flow arriving here, getting cleaned, and then released out to the Superior bay.
The City of Superior pays for the buses to transport the students to the plant.  We are thankful for the teachers who make time in their busy class schedules to have the students come here to learn more about this process.
As the almost 300 students come through and see the wastewater treatment process they will also learn how to help educate others about what not to flush which will help in preventing pollution to the bay and Lake Superior.  The sights (we have a nice location right on the bay) and smells (really not too bad!) are part of getting to know this important process that is at work 24 hours a day.  A team of over 40 people work here : a mix of engineers, operators, collections crew, administration, educators, and other specialists. 

Can you put the following steps in order? 

If you have a small group of people from your organization, church, workplaces or even neighbors that would like to take a tour, give us a call 715/394-0392. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Scoop the Poop Event Next Week!!!

Get a jump start on Scoop the Poop Week (April 24 - 30)!!!
Come in and make LAWN SIGNS and/or BUTTONS to promote picking up pet waste!
It's a FREE EVENT!! (RSVP at 715-394-0392 or superiorstormwater@gmail.com to ensure we'll have enough materials)
Support Scoop the Poop!! 

When: Tuesday April 21, 2015
            5-7 PM
Where: 51 E 1st St (ESD offices/Wastewater Treatment Plant - across E 2nd & railroad tracks from Golden Inn/Animal Hospital)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Copper-free brake pads

Copper-Free Brake Initiative

On January 21, 2015, EPA, states and the automotive industry signed an agreement to reduce the use of copper and other materials in motor vehicle brake pads. The agreement calls for reducing copper in brake pads to less than 5 percent by weight in 2021 and 0.5 percent by 2025.
In addition to copper, this voluntary initiative reduces mercury, lead, cadmium, asbestiform fibers, and chromium-6 salts in motor vehicle brake pads.
The Initiative will decrease runoff of these materials from roads into the nation’s streams, rivers and lakes. Copper from stormwater runoff can affect fish, amphibians, invertebrates and plants.
This initiative includes:
  • Education and outreach to bring about the nationwide reduction in brake pads of copper and the other materials.
  • Testing friction materials and constituents for alternatives.
  • Marking and labeling friction material packaging and product.
  • Providing reporting registrars’ and agents’ contact information to manufacturers, suppliers and other industry entities.
  • Working towards achieving the goals in the Copper-Free Brake Initiative within specified timeframes.
Numbers on copper reductions:
California and Washington already passed requirements to reduce these materials in brake pads. Prior to these requirements, fine dust from vehicular braking released an estimated 1.3 million pounds of copper into California’s environment in 2010 and about 250,000 pounds into Washington’s environment in 2011. Estimates for California show as much as a 61-percent reduction of copper in urban runoff due to changes in brake pad composition.
In addition to EPA, the Environmental Council of the States and eight industry groups signed the initiative: Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association; Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association; Brake Manufacturers Council; Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association; Auto Care Association; Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; Association of Global Automakers, Inc.; and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association.

The above information is from

Science Night at UWS is coming up April 10

There will be over 50 booths at this event.  Stop by.  Learning. Prizes. Fun.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Clean up the Outdoors

Clean Up the Outdoors

The city of Superior Public Works Department has street sweeping April through the fall and the brush pickup is happening in late April.  Sand was applied to roads during the winter time for driving safety.  Now that the snow is mostly gone the sand remains.  The city picks it up and it heads to a temporary site and then to the landfill.   Some cities do not use sand.  However, there are temperatures that salt doesn’t work (too cold) so sand was a way to add traction for safety during those icy times.   We don’t want the sand – or loose soil – to go down storm drains to head to local streams.   Ensure that soil erosion is reduced by having plant roots in place to hold the soil and find ways to reduce the flow of stormwater such as by putting in a rain barrel or having less impervious surfaces.  Water picks up things as it flows over surfaces.  If the surfaces are clean or held in tack it won’t move things.    

There are two free landfill days scheduled  - one on April 25 and the other on May 2.  From 8 AM until 2:30 PM on those days the City of Superior residents can drop off household trash, brush, tires, grass clippings and used motor oil for free.  To drop-off of a mattress you will have to pay $10 each or $13 to drop one off if damp, wet, or heavily soiled.  From the tour we had at the landfill in the fall, about 18,000 mattress are brought to the Superior landfill each year and not very many of them are recycled because they come in wet.  So keep your unwanted mattress dry so that it can go through the program at Goodwill that recycles all the materials. 
  As a reminder recyclables, electronics, appliance, demolition/construction material, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and household hazardous waste are not accepted at the landfill.  

Also, be sure to pick up pet waste as you walk your dog.  It’s natural material and would ‘go away’ in time but by picking it up you are removing the chance for stormwater to move some of the pet waste and have it travel down a storm drain. 

Finally, inevitably there is litter around.  The wind blew it, the rain moved it, or someone litters on purpose.    Put on a pair of rubber gloves and do some litter pickup for areas in town.  It will be a great way to bring beauty to our city.  Parks, yards, and areas in town will soon have flowers in bloom.  Let’s let the flowers color the lawns and not litter.
Enjoy the warmer days and longer days ahead.  Get out and go for a walk.  Admire our local streams and the shore of Lake Superior and bay.  We really do live in a beautiful place.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Over 80 students,  fifth graders from Lake Superior Elementary  and fourth and fifth graders from Four Corners Elementary, attended a Superior Water Fair this morning at the Mariner Mall.  The Water Fair was organized by the City of Superior Environmental Services and included 10 learning stations.  Stations included guests from  Lake Superior Research Institute, Natural Resources Research Institute, Iron River Fish Hatchery, Master Composters, Regional Stormwater Protection Team, Lake Superior Research Institute and community volunteers.    Playing Lake Superior Jeopardy, sorting fish into their micro-habitat hideouts, and calculating water use for the total number of showers per year and the gallons of water saved in a year by a shorter shower, viewing benthic macroinvertebrates, sorting waste into where it should go (medicine to the police station, household hazardous waste to the proper disposal location and recycling, testing water samples for water quality, seeing how rain causes stormwater to pick up pollutants from the land, and learning how a fish hatchery breeds fish and prepares for the stocking of area lakes and learning about aquatic invasive species were all part of the morning’s activities. 

The fair ended with a visit by Adam Clark, meteorologist from KBJR, and he talked the water cycle and forecasting weather.  He also created a cloud in a bottle. 

This is the 3rd year for the fair that has included two schools in Superior at a time. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Impaired Waterbodies of Wisconsin.

The US EPA has a website that has a searchable database to look up different water bodies in the state of Wisconsin.

The database includes the TMDL (total maximum daily load) for a given material into a waterbody.  Some streams and rivers are impaired due to too much of something entering the system.

Mercury TMDLs are being developed.   Fish advisories are in place.

In our neck of the woods the St. Louis River is the main body of water of concern. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Erosion Control

We are just back in from the Minnesota Erosion Control Association Conference.  It was held at the DECC in Duluth the last 3 days.  Great workshops and a whole team of people learning and sharing about ways to help keep water clean by helping keep soil in its place.
We also learned about phosphorus coming from leaves that fall off trees in the fall, stream geomorphology and tools that people use to restore streams.   The importance of compost, the importance of planning for projects - including having plans for well beyond the time activity occurs at a site (mine reclamation), and also ways cities can fulfill permit requirements through training staff and local businesses that might be a source of polluting activities (such as restaurants with grease).  The city of Duluth gave a presentation on recovering after the 2012 flood - pictures showed how intense and changing the high water flow had on numerous streams.  Woody debris - even whole trees - were swept in the streams and blocked culverts.  Stream banks had considerable erosion creating the reddish plume in Lake Superior that lasted for weeks.  Repairs have been made to roads that suffered from water damage and plantings have been put in some of the main disrupted stream banks.  Restoration continues.

An exhibitor area had products ranging from native plant landscaping to products to use to make permeable pavement areas to engineering places that have products to insert in storm drains.  Above ground and below products and learning better management and education outreach reduce pollutants and sediment from entering our local waterways. 

Here is the link to the event http://mnerosion.org/
This was the first year MECA held their conference in Duluth. 
Thanks for bring the conference up north to advance the area's knowledge and techniques with controlling erosion.

Here is a link to the WI DNR with more stormwater and erosion control practices.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Since a year ago

Thanks to those who have Liked us on Facebook and subscribed to our Twitter messages.  Our social media outreach is increasing - tripling since last year at this time.  More are welcome.  If you're reading this blog, perhaps you'd like to go to SuperiorESDPW on Twitter or Facebook.

More options for disposal of unwanted medicines

We have been directing you to the Superior Police Department in the Government Services Building at 1316 N. 14th St. and the green dropoff box in their lobby as the place to dispose of unwanted medicines.   This program began in late fall 2012.  Here is more information on the program.

See the green dropoff box?  It's in the lobby of the Superior Police Dept. ready to receive unwanted medicines.  No information is required when you do a dropoff to the box.  

Do not flush
unwanted meds as the wastewater treatment plant may not be able to remove the materials.  The drugs would then go out into the St. Louis River estuary and bay into Lake Superior. 
The drugs are then brought to a medical incinerator in Minnesota.

Another option besides police departments for disposal of unwanted drugs.
It's called Yellow Jug Old Drugs. 

In Superior, two places are participating: Essentia Clinic, at 2202 E. Second (near the new SuperOne) and 3500 Tower Ave.  Old meds can be dropped over there.  Here is more information about the program.  The drugs are then brought a waste to energy facility. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's starting to look like WINTER!

We finally got a good layer of snow on the ground and cold air coming through this week. For kids that may mean fun times outside building snowmen and sledding. For adults, that may mean slippery roads and shoveling. If you are the one shoveling and de-icing the sidewalks and driveway around your property, here are some friendly reminders:
  • Salt (Sodium Chloride) is only effective at pavement temperatures 15 degrees F or above. Salting sidewalks at lower temperatures will NOT melt the ice.
  • Sand is an abrasive; it DOES NOT melt snow and ice. However, it will provide traction on icy walkways
  • If you use a 50/50 salt/sand mix, you're generally either half right or half wrong. Using a salt/sand mix leads to over application of both materials. 
  • Always remove snow after it has fallen! This is the best way to avoid icy build-ups and avoid relying on ill-effective de-icers for sidewalk safety (de-icers not effective with 3 inches of snow accumulation).
And don't forget to enjoy the snow once the shoveling is done! Be in tuned with your inner child and go sledding/tubing or build a snowman!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Extended Deadline for 4th Quarter Bill!!

New deadline for sewage, stormwater, and recycling bill is now FEBRUARY 23, 2014 (bill states Feb. 13).
Bills were sent out later than usual due to software issues and other changes. Read more about it in the telegram article.

Fourth Quarter bill includes:
Stormwater fees for July-December 2014 (previously mailed as a separate semi-annual bill)
Sewages fees for October-December 2014
Recycling fees for November-December 2014*
*This is a new fee that the City enacted in November

The City combined the Sewage, Stormwater, and Recycling fees into ONE BILL sent out on a quarterly basis. Rates of sewage and stormwater DID NOT change. The switch to one bill will hopefully create less confusion and be beneficial to everyone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Benefits of Wetlands

World Wetland Day was this past Monday (February 2, 2015). Wetlands come in various shapes and sizes, but must have these three components: Hydrology (soil must be saturated for 5% of growing season); Soils (must contain characteristics indicating water - like clay); and Vegetation (must contain wetland species). If you think this sounds like the entire city of Superior you would be correct! Superior is covered in wetlands.

Here are some benefits of wetlands:
  • Flood control. They can slow runoff, minimizing the effect of floods. 
  • Natural filter. They store nutrients and pollutants in the soil, allowing cleaner water to flow out. Some of the vegetation like cattails absorb pollutants. 
  • Wildlife habitat. Many animals depend on wetlands for homes and resting spots. 
  • Recreation. Wetlands are a great place to hunt, fish, explore, and overall enjoy nature!
Learn more about Wisconsin wetlands here: http://wisconsinwetlands.org/index.htm

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter is the Perfect Time

Here in the northern part of Wisconsin we will likely have winter for several more months.  Winter is a great time to plan for the summer.

Here are 3 ideas on what you could spend some time planning this winter:

1.  Look at garden websites and native plants. 
Plan a rain garden or native plant area in your yard.  Where has water accumulated?  Where could you redirect a drain spout from your house? 
Check out the Native Plant tab as part of this blog.   Native plants have many benefits - both in terms of cleaning stormwater, adding beauty to your yard, reducing yard maintenance (no mowing), and providing food for pollinators.  Here is a Rain Garden manual with some ideas.  Learn about the zones of a rain garden and what plants could be planted in each.  Here is a site to learn about plants per zone.  
Since we aren't seeing blossoms now outdoors - visit websites or library books on native plants.  The colors are fun - even if we can't take in the nice smells of some of the flowers.   That will have to wait until you have them planted in your yard and the time for blossoming has arrived.

2.  Cleaning Time.  Another winter prep activity could be on cleaning out unwanted materials in your garage, basement or under the sink.  Spring cleaning - or at least on some mild winter days - can be good to take care of items - even unwanted medicines.  Are the pills expired?  Do you not need that can of partial can of paint?  Superior has an agreement with WLSSD in Duluth to bring items to their Hazardous Waste Facility.   Here is our disposal guide.  Here is information on disposal from WLSSD.  Here are their hours.
You also may want to stop for a car wash.  Commercial car washes are designed to capture grit and oil from your vehicle.  Any time of the year - commercial car washes are the preferred practice to wash your car without creating stormwater runoff and sending pollution or debris down storm drains and out to nearby streams.

3. Event Planning  Here is information on planning on setting up recycling at special events


Monday, January 19, 2015

Orb365 Update

Thank you to the over 25 businesses, organizations, and community members who participated in making ice orbs!  Each orb was representing a day in the year that water is important.  Over 365 came in - some were on the liquid-side and some cracked so the extras helped.  
365 is a pretty big number and orb by orb the numbers grew. 

This project location was Center City Park on Belknap and Tower Ave.

Thanks to Cathedral students who made 200 of the ice orbs.  Wow!   Here is Principal Carr dropping their batch off.

I picked up orbs from a dozen places and the colorful pile grew.

As the pieces of the balloons were removed (it took tubs of warm water using rubber gloves to do the task with some of them) the beauty of the orbs was fantastic to see on the clear and the dyed ones.  It was so fun to see the orbs of different sizes - and even shapes. 

The sculpture that resulted - well - there were plans of building a taller organic shape - partly as if it was a person - since we are over half water.  The balls in the given temperature didn't want to stack more than 5 or so high.  The sculpture that was 'born' was a rather simple organic low-to-the-ground- shape.  It has a head and two arms reaching out.  One arm could be thought of as a pollution prevention arm and the other as water conservation arm.    Or, with a more city twist, one could be Superior and one could be Duluth.  Here in the Twin Ports are watersheds are shared, our wastewater treatment plants both discharge into the St. Louis River, and our community members live, work, and play in this special place on the western edge of Lake Superior.  
Here it is -  Orb 365.  Maybe it could be called Twin-Pus (like an Octopus but with only two arms).
Stop by and wander over to the 'statue.'  A 3-D shape can be explored from all angles.  The issues relating to water also come from many angles.   As a reminder there will be a Water Film Fest with a dozen short films coming up January 29.  I've sent up film on assorted topics on water.  Some local productions by local filmmakers will be part of this program.  Free movies.  Bring yourself.  Bring a friend.  Thank you to those who participate in the City of Superior Environmental Services events.  It means a lot to learn more about water quality and how we make a difference.  All of us.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Orb365 Project Jan 16

Orb365 project is coming up this week!

This Friday afternoon - Jan 16 - will be the assemblage of 365 frozen water spheres (orbs).  Environmental Services invited the public to participate and fill balloons with water and made round frozen "bricks."   About 200 community members from youth to seniors are participating from a school, local organizations, businesses, county government and city government staff.  The sculpture to be built at Center City Park, near Belknap and Tower, will include all the spheres.  Thank goodness it's looking like the air temperature won't be quite a low numbers as the last week.  The sculpture will last how ever long it lasts.

Each sphere represents a day in the year that water is important. 

Thanks to all who are participating:
Cathedral School students
Senior Nutrition
Superior Fusion
Thirsty Pagan
CASDA youth
Fairlawn Mansion
Lake Superior NERR
Center for Muscle and Joint Therapy 
Geraldine Hughes, master gardener
Stephanie - Clerk - Douglas Co.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore store
Mac's Sport
Shannon's Stained Glassery
Superior Library staff
Cathy Casper
Long Family
and more!

Whether you participate in making the orbs for this event or make one or more at home.  Hold up the sphere and think of it as a water drop.  What journey will that drop make in a given year?   Inside us is part of the story.
We are also part of the effort to help keep it clean. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What is an outfall?

A stormwater outfall is defined as any “point at which storm water is discharged to waters of the state or to a storm sewer” (NR Code 216). Outfalls are further categorized by 2 types – major and minor. A major outfall is essentially one that is large in size and drains a large area of land. Minor outfalls are the remaining outfalls of various sizes and drainage areas.

Superior has over 100 stormwater outfalls (19 of them are major). Outfalls get screened every year during dry weather (at least 2 days after rainfall) to detect Illicit Discharge. Read more about Illicit Discharge from a previous blog post. Half of major outfalls get screened every year (2-year rotation) and 1/5 of minor outfalls are every year (5-year rotation). The trickiest part of outfall screening is FINDING the outfall. All outfalls have been mapped many years ago, but the terrain has changed since then . . . especially after the 2012 flood. Minor outfalls can be small (6” in diameter) and can be buried underground. Outfalls should be dry during periods of no rain so any flow from an outfall could potentially be an illicit discharge. In this past 2014 field season we did observe flow from outfalls, but they were all likely due to infiltration from natural water source or tap irrigation. Fortunately we didn’t notice any odd discharge. 

So if you noticed two strange people parked along the side of the road, looking in the nearby fields or staring at the storm drain off the road during the summer . . . they may be trying to find the outfall in the field or off the road.