Enhancement of Lake Superior's Water Quality
North Shore of Lake Superior,
North Shore Management Board
Basin Program Funds:
Deterioration of Lake Superior's water quality due to sedimentation, erosion,
runoff, and failing septic systems has been a problem for many years. Identification
of specific locations on the North Shore where such contamination is currently
occurring, and public educations effort for North Shore residents and local
officials, was identified as a necessary step in order to develop and implement
The Enhancement of Lake Superior's Water Quality project along Minnesota's North
Shore, is a joint effort between agencies to improve water quality by identifying
specific contaminated sites along the shoreline. Locations were identified,
and the information has been shared with landowners about possible corrective
actions that might be taken to remediate the identified problem.
The deterioration of Lake Superior's water quality due to sedimentation, erosion,
increased runoff and failing septic systems has been increasing for many years.
Identification of specific locations where contamination is currently occurring
was needed in order to develop effective solutions. The goals of this project
were: 1) to identify water quality problem areas due to erosion, development
and failing septic systems: 2) to educate North Shore residents and local units
of government about local water quality problems; and 3) to facilitate efforts
to implement solutions.
The Great Lakes Basin Program provided $7,528 over a 2-year period to support
the conduct of an aerial assessment flight, ground-truthing (landowner contact),
public education, and the production of final reports. The 154-mile environmental
assessment flight of the North Shore from Encampment Island to the Canadian
border completes the inventory for Minnesota's Lake Superior shoreline.
An aerial assessment flight of 154 miles was conducted by A.W. Research Laboratories
from Encampment Island to the Canadian border along the North Shore of Lake
Superior. High priority point and nonpoint contamination activities were mapped
and developed into slides. A final report was completed and presented to the
North Shore Management Board.
58 locations of concern were documented with the developed slides. Of these,
25 were natural point sources such as streams. Relatively few sites were instances
of human-induced conditions, and mostly involved inconsistency with the current
setback criteria. There were three areas exhibiting intensive industrial development.
Sedimentation was also noted in several areas along the shore. Finally, septic
system contamination was generally only visible in a few heavily populated areas.
This report completed Phase I of the project.
Phase II of the project involved ground-truthing the sites that were identified
in Phase I as high priority. North Shore Management Board staff met with the
technical staff of Cook and Lake Counties to determine the procedure and assess
costs for the ground-truthing and landowner visit process. Letters were mailed
to affected landowners explaining that the ground-truthing process was advisory
and educational only, not regulatory. Forty of the site visits were completed
where the landowners had the opportunity to discuss with technical staff the
property care and remediation options available to them. The overall perception
of the landowners toward the program has been positive.
The final component of the project involved public education. In addition
to the ground-truthing conducted in Phase II, there was also a series of mailings
and property care planning assistance sessions available to landowners. Each
Lake Superior shoreline owner in Cook and Lake Counties (1,350 households) was
mailed a packet of information tailored to the specific issues that County technical
staff felt were most critical to their location. Property care planning assistance
sessions were held on three occasions to give property owners the opportunity
to have their soil tested and discuss with technical staff and gardeners the
appropriate techniques for managing and caring for their property.
As a result of this project, the North Shore Management Board and Cook County
received a total of $100,000 from the State Revolving Loan Fund for establishment
of local revolving loan funds to assist with septic system upgrades for residential
The Great Lakes Basin Program has leveraged $4,006 from non-federal sources.
Contact: Andrew Bramson, (218) 722-5545