The city council finds as follows:

     (a)  The health and welfare of each person in Duluth and the very existence of the city, is directly dependent upon the proper functioning of the sanitary sewer collection system. The system has 400 miles of public sewer and over 500 miles of privately-owned lines that comprise 26,000 private sewer connections. Much of the private system is old, has not been maintained, and was built with connections to roof drains and foundation drains. Current law requires that private lines be functional and not leaking. If a sewer line is leaking or illegally connected, it allows rain or snow to enter, and sewage to leak out. That is why the sanitary sewer overflows during heavy rain;

     (b)  The United States environmental protection agency (USEPA)and the Minnesota pollution control agency (MPCA) have initiated a legal enforcement action against Duluth, alleging violation of environmental laws, seeking large amounts as penalties, and have ordered the city to stop the overflows. The city has two options for action: take responsibility for the situation, or have the state and federal government impose that responsibility;

     (c)  The preservation and water quality of Lake Superior is affected by the efficacy of Duluth’s sanitary sewer collection system because when an overflow occurs, it pollutes the lake;

     (d)  Duluth’s sanitary sewer system includes components built, owned, and operated by the city government, and components built, owned, and operated by private citizens and entities;

     (e)  In order to function properly, Duluth’s sanitary sewer system must operate in conjunction with the collection and treatment system operated by western Lake Superior sanitary district (WLSSD);

     (f)  In order for the city and its citizens to prosper, new development must be able to access the sanitary sewer system. The continuation of overflows would eventually end such access for new development and lead to expensive fines;

     (g)  For many years, inflow and infiltration (I&I) or clean water has been able to enter the sanitary sewer system, which causes sanitary sewer overflows during rain events. These overflows are a threat to health and public welfare and Lake Superior. To eliminate overflows will require community commitment to a combination of strategies implemented in the coming months and years;

     (h)  For many years, the city has repaired and improved the part of the system that it owns and operates, has constructed new components, has renewed old components, and has repaired, maintained, and redesigned, all at the cost of millions of dollars. It has separated the storm sewer system and sanitary sewer system, replaced vented manhole covers, furnished material to divert runoff away from foundations, mandated roof and foundation drain disconnections, built three storage tanks at a cost of over $11.1 million, renewed 250 lateral lines. It has carried out a program of over 5,300 footing drain disconnections and sump pump installations. These efforts have reduced the amount of I&I or clean water entering the system by eight million gallons/day, or 40 percent (50 percent in some areas), and significantly reduced the volume and number of overflows. However, overflows still occur;

     (i)  Construction of sewage storage facilities and improvements to the parts of the system owned by the city can have a large effect in solving the overflow problem, but an effective solution must also involve repair, improvement, or replacement of the privately-owned portions of the system, which comprised over 60 percent of the sanitary sewer collection system.


     (a)  Protection of Lake Superior by permanently eliminating all sanitary sewer overflows is a priority of the highest order for the city of Duluth, and protection of the lake is our community’s most sacred responsibility. By this resolution, city leadership is committing to taking on the responsibility of completely eliminating overflows. In determining budgets and spending, allocating of resources for enforcement, setting day to day operational priorities, requesting financial assistance from the state or federal government, and planning, the city shall recognize the high priority of eliminating sanitary sewer overflows, and act in compliance with that high priority;

     (b)  We set the complete elimination of overflows as a top city priority, and city leadership will be committed to attaining this goal as aggressively as possible. This effort will require leadership and participation from the mayor, council, city staff, and community at large. By this resolution, the council is committed to working with the administration to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy that will include these components: building storage facilities; improving integrity of public sanitary collection system; improving the integrity of private service lines; increase commitment to the sump pump disconnect program; seek alternative methods to reduce inflow and infiltration. The city shall increase its level of activity in improving its portion of the sanitary sewer system;

     (c)  The city shall establish a system to assist owners of the privately-owned parts of the sanitary sewer collection system to repair, maintain, or replace their components that are contributing I&I or clean water to the system;

     (d)  The city shall increase its level of activity to enforce standards that apply to the privately-owned portions of the system so that surface water does not enter it;

     (e)  The city shall seek financial assistance from the state and federal government to be used to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows;

     (f)  The city shall create a funding mechanism to sustain its efforts to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows;

     (g)  The city shall inform the public of the necessity of making all reasonable efforts to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows;

     (h)  The city is committed to protecting the water quality of Lake Superior now and for future generations.

PWU/ATTY BFB:nmj 2/5/2008

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  This resolution declares the high priority of eliminating sanitary sewer overflows. It describes the type of activities it will undertake in this regard. The implementation of the activities will come to the council in the form of reports, spending resolutions and new ordinances.