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E.coli water impairment prompts need for dog waste dispensers

The Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District is working with the City of Two Harbors to install four dog waste stations, such as the one in this photo, near the waterfront in an effort to reduce E. coli advisories in Skunk Creek, Burlington Bay and Agate Bay. (Photo courtesy of Lake County SWCD)

The Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District is seeking suggestions on where to install four dog waste stations near the waterfront in Two Harbors.

The additional stations are part of an effort to reduce E. coli advisories in Skunk Creek, Burlington Bay and Agate Bay, which are all considered impaired by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for E. Coli.

"Our goal is to work with the city and figure out logical places to put these dog waste dispensers that will have a benefit to Skunk Creek and the swimming beaches that are around Two Harbors," Derrick Passe, a district engineer with the Lake County SWCD, said.

E. coli advisories can be caused by pet waste, wildlife waste or leaky septic systems and sanitary sewers running into bodies of water after a rainfall, Passe said.

The stations provide users with bags to pick up animal waste and a container in which to discard them. Passe hopes the stations will ensure dog walkers pick up after their dogs instead of ignoring it.

"We're working to try to figure out what the source is, but in the meantime, we know that there is a lot of pet waste that is out there and it's a good way to get out in front of people just so that they know there is something they can do to try and keep their beaches swimmable," Passe said.

There are already several dog waste stations maintained by the city, and the additional four, funded by a grant from the Board of Water and Soil Resources, will also be maintained by the city, Passe said.

So far, Passe has heard residents recommend installing the stations near the boat ramp, near the Edna G tugboat and the walking trails.

"We're trying to figure out where people come together next to the water with their dogs," Passe said.

Suggestions can be made by leaving a comment on the organization's Facebook page, facebook.com/LakeCountySWCD, or by visiting its office in Two Harbors at 408 First Ave.

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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