In Miller Creek, trout suffer from urban pollution woes

Contact: Anne Perry Moore, 218-302-6605

It’s no secret that Miller Creek, one of the area’s best known urban trout streams flowing through Duluth and Hermantown, has suffered from urban influences for many decades. As a result, the creek’s ailing trout population is the subject of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) draft water quality report now open for public comment through July 5, 2017.

After winding its way through Duluth and Hermantown, the creek enters the St. Louis River below Lincoln Park. Along the way, fewer shade trees and plenty of stormwater runoff from roads and parking lots create warmer water that trout, other cold-water fish and bugs don’t appreciate. Shading the creek, restoring more natural flow paths, and preventing warm stormwater from entering it are possible strategies to address the temperature problem.

The draft report is a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study, part of a nationwide effort to identify and clean up pollution in streams, rivers and lakes. Scientists calculate the maximum amount of a pollutant, in this case heat, a waterbody can receive without exceeding water quality standards. Once exceeded, the waterbody is considered impaired. Every two years, states submit a list of impaired waters to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for review and approval.

The draft report is available on the MPCA’s Miller Creek TMDL webpage, or at MPCA’s Duluth office, 525 Lake Avenue South, 55802. Comments should be submitted in writing by July 5, 2017, to Tom Estabrooks, MPCA, 525 Lake Avenue South, Suite 400, Duluth, Minnesota, or 218-302-6608.

Written comments must include a statement of your interest in the draft TMDL report, a statement of the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft TMDL that you believe should be changed, and specific reasons supporting your position.

After receiving public comments, the MPCA will revise the draft report and submit it to the EPA. Next, a watershed restoration and protection strategy report will be developed.

For more information about the agency’s watershed approach to restoring and protection Minnesota’s water quality, visit the Watershed approach webpage.