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Press Release

City of Duluth, Minnesota, and Western Lake Superior Sanitary District Agree to Eliminate Sewer Overflows

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Have Agreed to Pay $400,000 Penalty

WASHINGTON—The city of Duluth, Minn., and the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District have agreed to make improvements to the area’s sewer system, estimated to cost about $130 million, to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows in an agreement filed today in U.S. District Court inMinneapolis Minn., the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced.

Duluth and the district have also agreed to pay a combined penalty of $400,000 to be equally divided between the United States and the state of Minnesota. The agreement requires that the improvements to the system to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows be in place by 2016.

According to EPA, between 1999 and 2004, the city and the district experienced at least 250 sanitary sewer overflows.   These overflows resulted in at least 47 million gallons of untreated sewage entering the St. Louis River and Lake Superior.

"Duluth and the sewer district worked with the federal and state governments to agree on a remedial plan and settlement that will protect water quality in the Duluth area without the need for expensive and time-consuming litigation," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We are pleased the state of Minnesota joined us in this case, as such joint enforcement efforts have repeatedly proved effective in Clean Water Act cases."

"EPA is pleased to have reached an agreement with Duluth and the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "Eliminating sanitary sewer overflows will benefit public health and water quality in the St. Louis River and Lake Superior."

The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District provides sewer service to 18 communities and services a population of about 130,000. Duluth, with a population of 90,000, is the largest community served by the district.

The consent decree, lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice Web site at

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 09-618