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Sewer main repair may hit $6 million

The good news is that the WLSSD should be finished with nearly $2 million in initial repairs to a major sewer line near Esko by the end of September, restoring all four lanes to County Road 61 in that area.

The bad news is that engineers found another nearly mile of pipe that needs to be replaced, with another $4 million project now scheduled for next year.

The WLSSD board approved the new work at its regular August meeting.

Karen Anderson, WLSSD spokeswoman, said the existing project stems from a sewer line break back in May. The actual break was repaired within weeks, but WLSSD crews found other weak sections of pipe and work has continued all summer adding a liner to the damaged pipe in that area, Anderson said.

About 80 feet of pipe was replaced this summer with 520 feet lined at a cost of about $2 million.

The main sewer line between Cloquet and Duluth, which handles up to 20 million gallons of wastewater per day, broke in the median of County Highway 61 near Sorila Road.

WLSSD officials say the 2002 vintage pipe appears to have failed for multiple reasons including installation deficiencies and pipe design not suited to the higher sewage temperatures coming from Cloquet-based industries.

The four-lane road in that area has been down to two lanes during the work but should be back to four lanes when the pipe project is completed next month, Anderson noted.