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Public Works & Utilities


Duluth's stormwater utility is constantly cleaning the more than 300 miles of storm sewer pipe beneath our city. Cleaning sand and grit from large storm pipes requires specialized equipment and we use hydraulic rodder trucks (Vactor 2100 Series) to flush the lines and then suck out the debris.

With over 100 miles of ditching to maintain along our steep hillsides, Duluth uses a specialized walking excavator to traverse the slopes to clear debris and remove sediment.

After a storm sewer has been cleaned with the hydraulic rodder, a closed circuit television camera is driven up the line on a small tracked vehicle. The camera has lights and a rotating head which allows it to look in all directions to inspect the pipe for damage and illegal connections.

Construction and repair
Due to the constant shifting of the ground and the heavy flow of stormwater our stormwater pipes are slowly wearing down. When damaged pipes are detected, a storm sewer construction crew makes the repair. This crew also replaces driveway culverts and clears brush and debris from city ditches.

Culvert steaming
Winters in Duluth can be cold…very cold! Above the ground everything freezes, but below the snow cover the water still runs down our hillside throughout the winter. Occasionally, the water will encounter a driveway culvert that has frozen shut and will begin to flow over the driveway and freeze on the road surface creating a slippery ice hazard. When this occurs Duluth crews respond with high-pressure hot water steamers to thaw the culvert and allow the water to flow again.

Creek cleaning
Duluth's forty three named creeks, streams, and rivers play a very important role in transporting stormwater downhill to Lake Superior. Since stormwater runs off the surface of the land and receives no treatment it carries pollutants such as sand, road salt, oil, pet waste, leaves, grass clippings, and trash into the creeks. Duluth's stormwater utility sponsors several creek clean ups each summer to remove trash and debris to restore the creek to its natural beauty.

Water Quality Specialists
The City of Duluth staff includes six Water Quality Specialists dedicated to preserving the high quality water in our area. Their job covers a wide range of duties: erosion control, flow monitoring, Inflow/Infiltration into sanitary sewers, illegal connections, illicit discharges, sump pumps, bypass valves, sedimentation measurement, school presentations, homeowner meetings, and much more!

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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