One of the Northland's waterways will be a little cleaner in the future.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) have announced a $6 million clean up project that will start this fall in the St. Louis River, near the Scanlon Reservoir.

The project will remove contaminated sediment that dates back to the early 1900's. The EPA shared that this remediation work "will address approximately 55,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment in the reservoir, [which is] located just upstream of the Scanlon Hydroelectric Station in the St. Louis River Area of Concern".

Theo Stroomer
Theo Stroomer

At the same time, the work will be some of the first to "employ new remediation technologies" as part of the process.  According to the EPA:

"[The Scanlon Reservoir cleanup] will involve a novel, pilot remedy where a thin layer of carbon will be applied across 14 acres of the 43-acre reservoir.  Different techniques will be used to apply the carbon depending on the depth of the water.  The carbon layer will prevent the pollution from accumulating in the small organisms on the bottom of the food chain and will benefit the fish populations which rely on them for food.  Native plants on the land near the reservoir will also be restored."

Costs for the cleanup will be a shared expense for the two agencies.  The MPCS will provide $2.1 million of the projected total expense, while the EPA will fund the rest of it ($3.9 million).

This work that will begin this fall is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes and its tributaries.  Started in 2010, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative works to maintain the natural resources affiliated with the "largest system of fresh surface water in the world".

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Meanwhile, the St. Louis River Area of Concern was created as part of the original 43 Areas of Concern that were defined in the mid-1980's by the United States and Canada.  Success may have been slow, but it has been steady.  Of the 43 AOC's originally determined, 31 of them are located in the United States (the rest are in Canada).  Of those 31 U.S. AOC's, five have been cleaned up and "delisted".

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The Scanlon Reservoir was originally built in 1923, on 40 acres that lay immediately upstream from the Scanlon Dam.  Water from the reservoir is used for hydroelectric generation.  The St. Louis River flows through the Scanlon Reservoir; according to background details released by the EPA, "due to historic industrial and municipal activity, contaminated sediments have accumulated within the reservoir".

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