Voyageurs National Park is the nation's only water-based national park, with more than 84,000 acres of water and 134,000 acres of land. The interconnected waterways of the Park provide an unparalleled opportunity to explore the north woods lake country. Unfortunately, those waters are being negatively affected by human impact such as wastewater generation and disposal from existing developments throughout the region. This water quality degradation threatens the long-term health of the ecosystem and economic health of the tourism industry upon which the local economy is based. The Voyageurs National Park Clean Water Joint Powers Board is a collaboration between Koochiching and St. Louis Counties and was established to address the need for improved wastewater treatment in the area.
In 2010, SEH worked with the Joint Powers Board to prepare a Comprehensive Wastewater Plan. The plan outlined four major areas, which are also major access points to Voyageurs National Park. The areas identified were Island View (along the shores of Rainy Lake), Lake Kabetogama, Ash River, and Crane Lake. Priority for improvements in these areas was established based on age and condition of existing septic systems, among other factors. Projects that would address the most issues and immediately improve water quality were chosen to be constructed first.
Since the completion of the Comprehensive Wastewater Plan, the Joint Powers Board has been able to secure over $25 Million in grants for projects in the area. Projects were completed at Crane Lake and Pucks Point on Lake Kabetogama. A large project at Island View is currently under construction and a project at Ash River is in report phase. The Joint Powers Board will continue to work toward improving all the areas of need identified in the Comprehensive Wastewater Plan.