Great news for the communities and waters of Voyageurs National Park! The final piece of funding for the Island View Sanitary Sewer Extension Project fell into place on Wednesday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers committed $4.5 million to complete the project that will prevent untreated wastewater from seeping into Rainy Lake.The Island View effort is estimated at $17 million in total. The project is part of the larger Voyageurs National Park Clean Water Project that additionally includes separate sewage systems on Lake Kabetogama, Ash River and Crane Lake.
The interconnected waterways of Voyageurs National Park provide an unparalleled opportunity to explore the north woods lake country. Unfortunately, those waters are being negatively affected by human impact such as wastewater from existing developments throughout the region. Currently it is estimated that somewhere between 41% and 84% of existing septic systems neighboring Voyageurs are unreliable due in large part to the area's rocky shorelines that prohibit traditional systems from properly filtering wastewater.
The new system will pipe wastewater directly from homes, cabins and resorts into a central treatment plant, much like urban treatment facilities.
A letter co-signed by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Al Franken, and U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz sent a letter to the corps urging it to support the effort. This federal funding provides the final piece of the puzzle; combined with state and local funds, it will allow construction on the Rainy Lake portion of the Voyageurs National Park Clean Water Project to begin as early as this summer. Work has moved ahead on Crane Lake and is about to begin on Kabetogama.
Acting Superintendent Bill Carlson commented, "The park very much appreciates the great amount of time and effort that the Voyageurs National Park Clean Waters Joint Powers Board has put into this project. It will not only be a benefit to the gateway communities from an economic standpoint, the project will also enhance visitor enjoyment through improved water quality within the park. This has been a rather unique collaboration involving several public and private entities to bring this important project to fruition."