Thomson Township sewer plan ends development restrictionThomson Township has made good with the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District in its effort to reduce the amount of rainwater seeping into the sanitary sewage system.
By: By John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, Pine Journal
Thomson Township has made good with the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District in its effort to reduce the amount of rainwater seeping into the sanitary sewage system.
The WLSSD board on Monday night approved the Carlton County township’s revised plan to fix its leaking sewer collection system that contributes to rainwater overload and sewage spills downstream in Duluth.
The vote ended a prohibition on new sewer additions or connections within the township, a penalty that acted as a de facto restriction on development.
In May, WLSSD found the township in noncompliance of its inflow and infiltration ordinance and imposed the sewer hookup ban.
Thomson, which includes Esko and neighboring rural areas between Proctor and Carlton, was the only local government within the WLSSD service area to be in violation.
But since May, township officials have hired a private consultant to develop a formal infiltration plan.
The township smoke-tested their sewage collection system, mapped sewer lines and increased sewer rates $10 per month to pay for the fix. The township also notified 38 property owners with serious problems that they need to fix their leaks or pay an extra $100 per month starting in October.
“They have really stepped it up. They have a plan and they are working their plan and that is essentially what the ordinance requires,” said Marianne Bohren, WLSSD executive director.
The board’s action allows sewer extensions and hookups until the township’s 2010 infiltration plan is due in February.
“It will be a provisional approval. And if they keep making progress, it will become permanent next year, as long as they are in compliance,” she said.
Dave Sunnarborg, a Town Board supervisor, said town officials have worked as fast as possible since May to get a workable plan to WLSSD. He said tests revealed the usual cracks and leaks that need to be fixed.
“We think it’s a pretty good plan now. We have a lot of little cracks and leaks in the system, but they all add up to be a problem,” he said.
Under a WLSSD ordinance passed in 2008, the district requires all 17 municipalities within its service area, including Duluth, to report how much water is being sent to the treatment plant and what progress is made to keep clean rainwater out of the system. Rainwater gushing into the system is blamed for historic overflows, and WLSSD and Duluth are under a federal order to stop those overflows.
If the township hadn’t reached an amicable resolution with WLSSD, the district would have the authority to levy a $500 daily fine for every day the township remained in violation.