Duluth, Minnesota lies at the western end of Lake Superior, the source and headwaters of the entire Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystem. Although perhaps better known for extremely cold winters, residents and visitors know it to be a city of forested hills, wetlands and trout streams. With 42 named streams, Duluth has one of the highest densities of stream corridors of any of the >150 EMPACT- metro areas. Its park system is one of the most extensive in the nation - 11,000 acres including 125 municipal parks. Streams form the fabric of the aesthetic appeal and character of Duluth, but are also the core of the City's stormwater runoff system with 250 miles of storm sewer, 93 miles of creek, and over 138 miles of roadway ditches. Urbanization and rural development are placing increased pressure on Duluth's streams, and in particular, on its 12 designated trout streams. Fish and amphibians, and the invertebrates that sustain them are being impacted by increased temperature, excess turbidity and suspended sediment, road salts, organic matter, and nutrients. Further, these streams discharge directly into ultraoligotrophic L. Superior, the focus of the International Joint Commission Zero Discharge Demonstration Project, or indirectly via the St. Louis River-Duluth Superior Harbor -- already a Great Lakes Area of Concern. In 1998, Duluth established a stormwater utility to address the quality and quantity of surface water moving through the City and is now developing a Surface Water Management Plan. Despite a strong attachment to Duluth's streams, there has already been resistance from citizens to the increased charges needed to pay for the Plan, the monitoring, and the necessary infrastructure improvements.

This project will form a partnership between the City, U. of Minnesota research, education and outreach professionals with demonstrated expertise in EMPACT's goals, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, and the Great Lakes Aquarium. The project's primary goal is to enhance public understanding of aquatic ecosystems, the influence of land uses in the watershed and these systems, and the importance of these systems to both economic and environmental sustainability. The proposal has the following objectives:

1. Install in-stream sensors and integrate real-time sensor data with historical and current monitoring data (including student and volunteer data) for four representative watersheds in the Duluth metropolitan area;
2. Gather historical water quality and biological (e.g., fish, stream insects) data from agency and academic research programs for all 42 Duluth urban streams, incorporating the results of ongoing City operations and agency and academic studies;
3. Combine these data with appropriate watershed-based land use and cultural data into a GIS-linked data base;
4. Develop advanced interactive data visualization tools to animate and simplify the presentation and interpretation of complex, real-time stream data;
5. Place these data into a web, kiosk, and programmatic framework that provides not only public access to data, but also the educational materials required for data interpretation;
6. Develop curricula to accompany the data for area high schools and Lake Superior CC;
7. Implement mechanisms for incorporating public input into the decision-making process.


Project goals will be achieved by presenting information using existing and novel data visualization and interpretation techniques to couple real-time and historic monitoring data with watershed and land use data, and cultural information. We will: 1) link real-time remote sensing of urban streams and GIS technology to current and historical databases using advanced data visualization tools in website and information kiosk formats; 2) incorporate visually engaging interpretive text, animations and videos into the DuluthStreams website to illustrate the nature and consequences of degraded stormwater and the real costs to society; and 3) engage the public in the stormwater issue via programmatic activities such as establishing high school-directed neighborhood stewardship/monitoring of 3 streams, developing curricula for high school and college students for inclusion in the Water on the Web curriculum, hosting a DuluthStreams Congress as a community forum for presenting all project results, and adapting the NEMO nonpoint education program to the greater Duluth Metropolitan Area. A final component of the project, though performed throughout, will be to assess the success of DuluthStreams using a variety of surveys and other evaluation techniques targeting specific user groups.

Expected Results

DuluthStreams will provide direct public access to the information needed for good land use planning and decision making. The fundamental benefit of the project is to provide public access to information relevant to current and future quality of life. We expect to achieve this via the following results and benefits:
1. Real-time automated stream gauging and monitoring hardware for gathering data for assessing stormwater and surface water quality, stream impairments and potential TMDLs;
2. Production of a comprehensive GIS-linked database to include current, future and historical data for Duluth's 42 streams;
3. Graphic and textual interpretive information regarding the data and key issues of concern related to urban stormwater management;
4. Public education by piloting the development of a variety of tools, including a website, kiosks, workshops, volunteer/high school monitoring and stewardship, and school curricula;
5. Partnerships between the City, the U. of Minnesota, and other local, state and federal agencies and organizations that have expertise and common goals regarding stormwater, area stream ecosystems, the Duluth-Superior Harbor, and Lake Superior;
6. The data, information management and delivery systems, and community education program will be designed for easy adaptation to other communities.