Water Quality


Stormwater Management for Safety and Water Quality

The St. Louis County Public Works Department manages 3,000 linear miles of public roads and right-of-way. Every road has a system to collect and discharge stormwater away from the road using ditches or, for roads that have curbs, a system of buried storm sewer pipes and treatment technologies.

The county inspects and maintains stormwater drainage infrastructure on a regular basis to ensure it is working as intended. Inspectors also check to see if stormwater treatment systems are functioning to help protect water quality or in need of maintenance. The county's road improvement planning process includes looking into adding new water quality treatment systems as needed as part of road upgrades.

The area in and around the City of Duluth and Hermantown encompasses the county's stormwater management which is regulated by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit. Learn more about the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit here.

The video below includes more information as well as the 2020 update on the county's MS4 stormwater pollution prevention program. The public is encouraged to review this information and suggest anytime how we can do better to keep stormwater clean. Contact Carol Andrews at 218-625-3862 or andrewsc@stlouiscountymn.gov.

The Regional Stormwater Protection Team (RSPT) of the greater Duluth-Superior area needs your help generating new, fun ideas about how we can all be the best stormwater protectors we can be! The RSPT is offering $300 worth of prizes via a raffle. See the Game (poopfairy.university) for details. The deadline to be eligible for the raffle drawing is December 13th.

Report Stormwater Contamination

Storm sewer pipes do not flow to a wastewater treatment plant. They discharge to wetlands, creeks and lakes. For this reason, it is critical to prevent pollutants from getting into stormwater in the first place.

Any substance that is not stormwater (with few exceptions such as water from fire hydrants) may cause stormwater  contamination. It is illegal to place anything in the stormwater system including:

  • Sources of sediment such as soil, dirt, sawdust and sand
  • Oil/petroleum products
  • Soaps/detergents
  • Household or industrial chemicals
  • Agricultural waste
  • Sewage
To report suspected stormwater contamination involving county roads, contact Carol Andrews, Environmental Project Manage, at 612-625-3862 or andrewsc@stlouiscountymn.gov.
To learn more about proper disposal of the items listed above, visit Disposal Guide | WLSSD.

Public Outreach and Education Sources

For over 15 years, St. Louis County has worked with our partners on the Regional Stormwater Protection Team to get stormwater pollution prevention messages to the public. Learn more about the RSPT here.

The RSPT has a wide variety of educational materials and ready-to-use public education messaging for social media that we are happy to share. Contact Carol Andrews for more information.

RSPT Facebook
RSPT Instagram

The County’s Stormwater Pollution Prevention Document provides detailed information regarding the County’s MS4 Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP).

St. Louis County MS4 SWPPP Document & Permit Application

Questions? Input? Contact Carol Andrews, Environmental Project Manager, at 218-625-3862 or andrewsc@stlouiscountymn.gov. Annual MS4 reports, regulatory mechanisms such as the County’s Right-of-Way/Utility Permit and other SWPPP documentation is available upon request.

Roads and Environmental Permitting

Each year the St. Louis County Public Works Department typically replaces 20 to 30 bridges (crossing 10' or wider) as well as 50 or more smaller culverts (pipes) that pass water from one side of a road to the other. Many bridge and culvert replacement projects provide an opportunity for the county to improve the stream crossing for fish and other aquatic species. Often this is achieved by replacing an existing narrow bridge or culvert with a wider structure and flood plain culverts to help maintain natural stream flow rates. These newer designs also help protect our infrastructure and keep roads open by reducing the chance of streams flowing over the road or washing out the bridge during high rain events.

As part of our project planning process, St. Louis County works closely with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, US Army Corps of Engineers and others entities involved with protecting and improving streams and wetlands. Permits are obtained as required by applicable state and federal rules.

For more information on the county's road and bridge construction permitting process, contact Sam Cook, Environmental Project Manager, at 218-625-3871 or cooks@stlouiscountymn.gov.


Phone: 218-625-3830
Fax: 218-625-3888

Phone: 218-625-3800
Fax: 218-625-3818

Phone: 218-262-0150
Fax: 218-262-0014

County Surveyor
Duluth - Survey Desk
Phone: 218-625-3848

Virginia - Survey Desk
Phone: 218-471-7855

All contacts