Wastewater Treatment Facility | Stockton, IL

MSA Helps Caribou Lake Residents Solve Long-term Treatment Issue

Posted on 10/28/2016 11:03 AM


Pictured from left to right are: Tom Kurtovich, Grand Lake resident; Nancy Johnson, Minnesota Public Facilities Authority; and Tom Rovinsky, Lakehead Trucking. (Photo by Deanne Havel)
Pictured from left to right are: Tom Kurtovich, Grand Lake resident; Nancy Johnson, Minnesota Public Facilities Authority; and Tom Rovinsky, Lakehead Trucking. (Photo by Deanne Havel)

Residents living on Caribou Lake, along with the Grand Lake Township, recently celebrated the resolution of a 15-year journey to implement a wastewater collection and treatment system to improve water quality. 

MSA Professional Services (MSA) Duluth, worked with the residents to select an affordable alternative and seek grant funding to pay for the $1.9 million project.

Prior to the project, failing septic systems were adding to nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the lake, explained Joe Jurewicz, P.E., MSA project manager. 

“Many homes had non-compliant septic systems and couldn’t be replaced without installing a holding tank. The expected pumping costs made this option unfavorable for most residents, particularly those who reside on the lake full-time,” he said.

Many Options Considered

Tom Kurtovich, a Caribou Lake resident since 1977, remembers when the treatment issue was first discussed with neighbors on an August day in 2001. Initially, potential solutions were discussed with the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) and St. Louis County. 

In 2011, MSA worked with the township, located northwest of Duluth, to develop a Community Assessment Report that identified multiple options for dealing with failing septic systems.

Alternatives included extending WLSSD sewer service to Caribou Lake and installing holding tanks for all non-compliant properties. For most residents, replacing or expanding their existing septic systems was not an option. 

Then it was decided a viable solution was to construct an on-site wastewater treatment system that included nitrogen removal. A key factor was obtaining $1.6 million in funding through the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA) Small Community Treatment Program, which paid for about 80% of the project costs.

Expected monthly fees for property owners will be about $140 per month for the treatment system. This compares with expected holding tank fees of about $300 a month, said Jurewicz.

Nancy Johnson of the PFA, town officials and residents participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 18, to officially open the Birch Point Treatment Facility.

“We were persistent and enough people were willing to step up to the plate and jump through all the hoops to do this,” Kurtovich said. “We ended up getting a grant. This took a long time, but it worked out well.”

New Opportunities

With septic tanks, residents needed space on their property for a leach field, space some residents simply didn’t have on their narrow, lakefront lots. Holding tanks, while less expensive to install, included hefty hauling fees that would be required on a continuous basis. However, with the new on-site treatment, residents now have room to expand their homes with minimal worry.   

MSA provided design, bidding and construction services for the connection of 35 residential properties to the common treatment and dispersion system located near the lake’s public access.

For information, contact Joe Jurewicz.
 

 

 


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