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Public Works & Utilities

Storm Sewers

Stormwater is rain water and snow melt that collects on the ground as a result of rain and snowfall. When this water flows across the surface of the land it picks up pollutants and carries them to the nearest stream, river, or lake. Stormwater is NOT TREATED at the wastewater treatment plant.

Impervious surfaces are areas that do not allow water to infiltrate into the ground. Asphalt parking lots, concrete sidewalks, rooftops, and compacted gravel areas are examples of impervious surfaces. Impervious surfaces create runoff that must be captured and carried by Duluth's storm sewer system.

Duluth's stormwater utility system consists of 431 miles of pipe, over 100 miles of ditches, and about 3000 culverts. Storm drains and catch basins carry stormwater from the streets and parking lots to the nearest waterway. Catch basins are the heavy steel grates located along the curbs, usually near intersections. There are nearly 12,000 catch basins in the City of Duluth.

Maintaining this system is no easy task. Utility operations uses hydraulic rodders and high-pressure jetters to flush and clean the storm sewer pipes, along with a small closed-circuit television camera mounted on a tracked crawler to drive down the pipes and inspect for cracks, breaks, leaks and pollution sources. If breaks are detected in the system Duluth's storm sewer construction crew makes the repair. In addition to Operations and Maintenance staff, the Stormwater utility also has staff positions in Engineering.

The City of Duluth has forty-four named streams within its boundaries and sixteen of these are designated trout streams. Duluth's streams are important receiving waters. Learn more about them at "".

If you have any questions or concerns about stormwater, or if you would like to review and comment on the City of Duluth's Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) please contact the Stormwater Program Coordinator at 218-730-5200.

Jim Benning
Director of Public Works & Utilities
City Hall, Room 211B
411 West First Street
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 730-5105


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