Stormwater permit violations lead to Jay Cooke State Park improvements

Contact: Anne Perry Moore, 218-302-6605

Duluth, Minn. ― The corporate owner of a public boat launch on Duluth’s Island Lake reservoir recently agreed to make $53,000 in improvements at Jay Cooke State Park in lieu of paying a penalty for stormwater violations, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced today.

Minnesota Power, a Duluth-based utility company, allowed Twin Ports Excavating, LP, to conduct excavation work near the utility’s boat launch as part of a development project.

During a June 13, 2012, MPCA inspection, MPCA staff observed that work on the site was taking place without a proper state permit, and without taking the proper precautions to keep sediment from flowing into the reservoir, a popular site for fishing and recreation. Minnesota Power staff were instructed to stop construction work until a permit was obtained and controls were put into place to reduce erosion and sediment runoff.

Nearly a week later, a citizen made a complaint that included photos of sediment-laden water flowing from the site into the reservoir. The MPCA inspector returned to the site and found additional stormwater violations related to lack of sediment controls on the construction site. The inspector again produced a list of required actions that must be taken before construction could resume.

Site conditions did not improve until July 25, when Minnesota Power notified the MPCA that construction activities had been stopped. On July 26, Minnesota Power applied for the required permit. All of the required corrective actions were made by September 12, 2012.

In lieu of a penalty, Minnesota Power will make at least $53,000 in improvements at Jay Cooke State Park. Anticipated to begin in August, the work is expected to stabilize ongoing erosion caused by the 2012 region-wide flood, at a hillside adjacent to the Oldenberg Point Overlook.

In this situation, the agency determined the actual cost of improving the state park overlook was approximately twice of what a penalty would be and settled the enforcement action with Minnesota Power with this environmentally-beneficial project.

For more information about the MPCA’s efforts to protect human health and the environment, or more specifically about its construction stormwater quality programs, visit www.pca.state.mn.us.