Feds, state commit $3 million for St. Louis River cleanup

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Federal and state officials on Friday unveiled a plan to spend $3 million aimed at restoring the St. Louis River, in part by cleaning up contaminated areas and making improvements to water habitats, the Duluth News Tribune reported. Officials announced the investment at an event at the water's edge in Duluth.

The EPA will contribue $2.19 million under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and the MPCA will chip in $1.1 million through the Minnesota Clean Water Fund, the newspaper reported. The money will be used to assess clean-up options on the river, and to evaluate how much contaminated sediments to be removed, the newspaper reports. The money also is slated for engineering designs for clean-up work.

The river flows into Lake Superior in Duluth, where it becomes a key but threatened estuary for Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. The area was designated in 1987 as one of 43 “areas of concern” by the International Joint Commission, essentially identifying it as one of the most polluted areas around the Great Lakes, the Star Tribune notes.

Other projects are underway to clean up the river. Over the past three years, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has spent more than $320 million. Some of that money has gone to projects on the St. Louis River, including creating riffles to improve spawning areas for sturgeon and cleaning up sawmill waste, the News Tribune reported.

"The St. Louis River is a recreational Minnesota jewel for local people, as well as for tourists and sports enthusiasts from all around our nation and world. It's a resource central to our enjoyment and our economy,” Rep. Rick Nolan said.

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