Duluth and Ashland have landed federal grants to help keep polluted runoff out of Lake Superior near swimming beaches.
Duluth is getting $58,000 and Ashland $175,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. About $2 million will go to 13 Great Lakes cities to conduct shoreline projects near popular beaches.
Having Great Lakes water that is clean enough to safely swim in is part of the ongoing, multi-year restoration effort funded by Congress.
"Our beaches are the window to the Great Lakes for millions of residents and visitors from around the world," said Cameron Davis, EPA senior advisor, in a statement announcing the grants.
Duluth will use its money to build rain gardens, plant trees and restore shoreline buffer on Park Point to prevent about 89,000 gallons of untreated stormwater runoff from reaching Lake Superior after rainstorms.
Ashland will construct infiltration swales, plant native vegetation and replenish beaches across nearly three acres of land at popular Maslowski Beach to prevent some 219,000 gallons of untreated runoff from reaching Lake Superior.
The goal is to reduce or eliminate beach advisories for high levels of bacteria that could make swimmers sick.
The restoration initiative also is seeking to remove contaminated sediment, improve fish and wildlife habitat, reduce urban runoff and prevent and remove invasive species across the Great Lakes.
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and U.S. Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar on Wednesday praised the grants as a good example of the restoration initiative funding. All three Minnesota Democrats have supported the ongoing effort.
"The health of Lake Superior is vital to the economy and environment in Duluth and all Minnesota," Klobuchar said in a statement.