Duluth awarded $4.6 million in funding to repair, boost flood recovery efforts on rivers, streams

By KBJR News 1

February 27, 2014 Updated Feb 27, 2014 at 7:26 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Duluth has been awarded $4.6 million in flood relief grants that aim to protect, while boosting the capacity of, our area's rivers and streams.

$3.6 million in funding from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) will go toward projects, like stabilizing stream banks along Mission, Amity and Chester Creeks.

One million dollars will also go to Carlton, Cook, Lake and South St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

Mayor Don Ness says the 2012 floods highlighted the challenges the city faces in addressing its unique stormwater system.

While in some cases century–old culverts and sewer systems channel Duluth's rainfall into Lake Superior, the city's rivers and streams are irreplaceable, natural channeling systems as well. For example, Mayor Ness says Duluth's Fond du Lac neighborhood was the hardest hit of any in the city due to the clogging, and flooding, of Mission Creek.

Since the flood, FEMA has provided funding for repairs to much of Duluth's "grey infrastructure," like culverts and bridges.

But a big benefit of the BWSR funding, says Ness, is that it goes toward more complicated projects for which funding is more difficult to attain.

"...when you're talking about a hillside, when you're talking about the stream as an important part of our stormwater system [even though] it doesn't necessarily have that concrete structure that you are replacing," said Mayor Ness, highlighting the differences between culvert and stream repairs. "That's the additional need and importance of this partnership."

City crews estimated that $12.6 million in damage was done to Duluth's rivers and streams during the flood.

This additional funding now brings the city's "green infrastructure" repair dollars to $6.8 million.

Mayor Ness says perhaps the biggest feature of these dollars is that they will help Duluth be pro–active in their "green infrastructure" design. He says the projects are intended to prepare these rivers and streams for another, possibly bigger, catastrophic flooding event in the city's future.

Billy Wagness
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