WLSSD Pollution Prevention Activities
The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District is committed to reducing pollution in the St. Louis River basin and Lake Superior and sharing our experiences with others looking to reducing pollution in their own communities. WLSSD is recognized nationwide for being on the forefront of the industry with its successful, innovative pollution prevention programs.
Mercury Pollution Prevention
WLSSD shared its successful mercury reduction activities with other agencies in the Blueprint for Mercury Elimination. More than 3,000 copies of the Blueprint have been distributed throughout the United States and Canada. Successful strategies for reducing the amount of mercury entering wastewater treatment plants include installing separators in dental offices and encouraging the purchase of low or no-mercury chemicals and reagents at local industries.
There is no treatment method that can completely remove mercury from the wastewater. Pollution prevention is the best approach to achieving reductions in the release of mercury and other persistent toxic chemicals that do not break down in the environment.
In most cases, pollution prevention is less expensive than end-of-pipe treatment for mercury removal. In addition, pollution prevention changes behavior and practices, which result in the elimination of mercury discharges.
Dioxin Pollution Prevention
Dioxin and dioxin-like compounds are produced when chlorinated products are burned. Dioxins accumulate in the food chain and can cause health problems in humans, including cancer.
Unregulated garbage burning by residents and businesses in burn barrels or small unregulated incinerators is the largest known source of dioxin emission to the environment today. During the heat of combustion, chlorine found in plastics or even in salt undergoes many chemical reactions which may lead to the formation and release of dioxins.
With funding from the EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office, WLSSD created and conducted a public information campaign designed to reduce garbage burning. WLSSD shared the successful public education and regulatory tools for use by local governments in the Toolkit "Clearing the Air, Tools for Reducing Residential Garbage Burning."
In 1990, the International Joint Commission (IJC), a federally appointed bi-national body that makes recommendations to the United States and Canada on implementing the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, recommended that Lake Superior be designated a demonstration zone to achieve zero discharge of persistent toxic substances.
In response to this recommendation, the WLSSD has made a commitment to the goal of achieving zero discharge of persistent toxic substances.