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Duluth sewer projects have favorable hearing

ST. PAUL -- As lawmakers waded through sewer system repair proposals Wednesday night, key legislators gave indications that requests for Fond Du Lac and the North Shore will be funded in the Senate bill.

ST. PAUL -- As lawmakers waded through sewer system repair proposals Wednesday night, key legislators gave indications that requests for Fond Du Lac and the North Shore will be funded in the Senate bill.
About 75 percent of the sewer systems in Fond Du Lac are failing, resident Mark Macor told the Senate Environment and Agriculture Budget Division, and without state help each household will pay between $25,000 and $30,000 for repairs. Sen. Sam Solon, DFL-Duluth, asked the committee for $1.6 million in state loans and grants to replace the sewer and water systems.
Sen. Doug Johnson, DFL-Tower, asked the committee for $12.9 million to install a new wastewater system in a 13-mile long strip along the North Shore where more than 50 percent of the sewer systems are failing and dumping raw sewage into Lake Superior.
"There's odor and scum, so we want to clean it up," said Nelson Thomas, chair of the Duluth/North Shore Sanitary District.
The wastewater infrastructure projects are paid for through a state fund that ranks the projects in the order they will receive money. The Fond Du Lac project is seventh on the list for funding and the North Shore ranks 13th. When lawmakers presented their projects to the committee, they asked the committee to put enough money in the fund to complete their project.
"You are on a good place on the list," Sen. Jane Krentz, the DFLer from May Township who chairs the committee, told Solon and supporters of the Fond Du Lac project, indicating that enough money will be put in the fund to complete this request.
Johnson, who plays a role in the Senate leadership's funding decisions, said, "The good news is we're going to have significant funding" for the wastewater infrastructure fund. "This will definitely be a high priority of the Senate this year."
The House decided to fund the wastewater grant program at $8 million -- enough to pay for the Fond Du Lac project, but not the North Shore one.
In the North Shore project, without state help, the project will cost residents about $130 per month, Thomas said. After state assistance kicks in, North Shore households will still make $65 monthly payments.
The Fond Du Lac project would replace sewer systems and install water systems for the 128 homes in the community. Only 47 of the homes currently have water service, said Macor, co-chair of the Fond Du Lac task force.

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