History of Western Lake Superior Sanitary District oral history project
Scope and Contents
This project recorded the memories and experiences of early employees, board members, and community leaders involved in the establishment and start-up of the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) in Duluth, Minnesota. Fifteen narrators participated. (A father and son were interviewed together.) Thirteen interviews were recorded in high quality .WAV format and AVCHD video as well as MS Word documents. One narrator declined recording: the interview was transcribed into MS Word document only.
Jerome M. Blazevic, and Jerome A. Blazevic were interviewed together transcript 16 p
Jerome A. is a well-known advocate and user of the St. Louis River. He grew up in the area and was instrumental in getting Boy Scout Landing in New Duluth set aside for public use. He leads canoe trips on the St. Louis River for the St. Louis River Alliance. Jerome M., his son, was present at the interview and also contributed a few thoughts about growing up around the River, etc. Interview Date and Location: April 1, 2010 Boy Scout Landing, New Duluth
Marianne Bohren transcript 8 p
Ms. Bohren grew up in the area in the 1970’s and later worked for Potlatch. She was a WLSSD Board member from 1999-2004. She began working at WLSSD in 2004 and became the first female Executive Director of WLSSD in 2008. Interview Date and Location: April 12, 2010, WLSSD Conference Room
Ben Boo transcript 15 p
Mr. Boo was mayor of Duluth from 1967-1975, a key time for negotiating compromises with Cloquet industries regarding a water line to Lake Superior and later establishing the new regional sanitary District, named WLSSD by Boo. He appointed the first Duluth WLSSD Board members in 1971-72, and later became WLSSD Executive Director from 1975-1979. Interview Date and Location: April 22, 2010 WLSSD Conference Room
Jack Ezell transcript 17 p
Mr. Ezell has worked for WLSSD since 1975 in the Planning Department. He grew up and went to college in the area. He has handled a variety of projects at WLSSD, from writing early comprehensive plans for included municipalities to helping with the search for a new landfill site. He is also a long-time member of the St. Louis River Alliance and has been active with St. Louis River issues. Interview Date and Location: April 7th, 2010 WLSSD Conference Room
Harold Frederick 11 p transcript
Mr. Frederick grew up in the area and was the Duluth City Attorney from 1962-1968. He was appointed WLSSD’s attorney in 1973 when Larry Yetka departed. He still works with WLSSD legal issues. Interview Date and Location: May 5, 2010 WLSSD Conference Room
Jim Johnson 13 p transcript
Mr. Johnson grew up in the Smithville neighborhood in the 1930’s and 40’s and remembers swimming. He was a Duluth city engineer, and later worked for WLSSD as the Manager of Operations and Engineering as the plant was being built. He was WLSSD Executive Director from 1980-1983. Interview Date and Location: May 19, 2010 WLSSD Conference Room
Jim Larson 9 p transcript
Mr. Larson, a long time St. Louis County Forester, came to Duluth to attend UMD in the fall of 1969. He became involved with a UMD group called Students for Environmental Defense. That group was active in educating students and the public about pollution in the St. Louis River. In 1977, Mr. Larson was an employee of the Lake Superior Basin Studies Center, doing a year-long study of future recreation uses for the St. Louis River after it was cleaned up by WLSSD’s opening. Interview Date and Location: June 7th, 2010 WLSSD Board Room
Mark Munger 12 p transcript
Mr. Munger is the nephew of Representative Willard Munger and recently wrote an extensive biography of Willard titled “Mr. Environment”. Mr. Munger grew up in the area and is a local judge and teaches environmental law at UWS. Interview Date and Location: April 14, 2010 WLSSD Conference Room
Jeanne Sederberg 4 p summary transcript
Ms. Sederberg was a Duluth-area lawyer and judge. She was the first working female lawyer that she knows of in the area. She was appointed by Ben Boo to the first WLSSD board and stayed on as a board member until 1974, when she became a judge. Interview Date and Location: May 25, 2010, WLSSD Board Room
Charla Sobczak 11 p transcript
Ms. Sobczak has been an employee of WLSSD since 1976. She grew up in the area and was the first female non-administrative employee at WLSSD. Before working at the WLSSD lab, she was employed by Northwest Paper doing sampling on the St. Louis River and saw River conditions before WLSSD began operating. Interview Date and Location: April 8, 2010 WLSSD Conference Room
Kurt N. W. Soderberg 20 p transcript
Soderberg began working at WLSSD in 1980, and was Executive Director from 1991-2008. Interview Date and Location: March 25th, WLSSD Conference Room
Tim Tuominen 15 p transcript
Mr. Touminen began working at WLSSD in 1973, before it officially was WLSSD (he started as a city of Duluth employee). He has worked in the lab continuously to this day. He grew up in the area and enjoys living in Northern MN. Interview Date and Location: April 8, 2010 WLSSD Conference Room
Larry Yetka 14 p transcript
Mr. Yetka is a lawyer and former MN Supreme Court Justice. He was Cloquet’s City Attorney during a key time for WLSSD’s early creation, and later became WLSSD’s first attorney. He is the author of WLSSD’s original enabling legislation. Interview Date and Location: April 7, 2010 WLSSD’s Conference Room
Dave Zenter 11 p transcript
Mr. Zentner attended college in the area in the 1950’s and became active in the Izaak Walton league. He was a local business owner appointed to WLSSD’s first board by Mayor Boo. He served on the board until 1974 when he was appointed to a council at the MPCA. Interview Date and Location: March 24, 2010 WLSSD Conference Room
- Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Open for use in the Kathryn A. Martin Library, Archives and Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Use
This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.
Biographical / Historical
Beginning in the 1950's, citizens of Minnesota and the nation began to encourage lawmakers to find solutions to water pollution problems. 1972, the US Congress appropriated funds under the Clean Water Act to build and upgrade wastewater infrastructure around the country.
In response to citizen demands to clean up the St. Louis River, the Minnesota Legislature created the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) in 1971. WLSSD's initial goal was to improve and protect the waters of the St. Louis River and its tributaries. In 1974, additional legislation was passed, giving WLSSD the added responsibility of solid waste management.
The treatment plant came on line in 1978, consolidating 14 old, inadequately treated discharges into one discharge point that met state and federal standards. Water quality in the St. Louis River rapidly improved. By the early 1980's, an increasing number of citizens returned to the river for fishing and recreation. Although the legacy of toxic materials in the river sediments remains, water quality today is dramatically improved.
14.00 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
This project recorded the memories and experiences of early employees, board members, and community leaders involved in the establishment and start-up of the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) in Duluth, Minnesota. Fifteen narrators participated.
This collection is located at the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives. For more information about this collection or to make an appointment, contact us at email@example.com or 218-726-8526.
- Audio Recordings Subject Source: Local sources
- Duluth (Minn.)--History Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Lake Superior Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Oral history Subject Source: Local sources
- Oral history interviews Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Sewage treatment Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- St. Louis River (Minn.) Subject Source: Local sources
- Water--Pollution Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Waterfront Subject Source: Local sources
- Western Lake Superior Sanitary District
- Guide to the History of Western Lake Superior Sanitary District oral history project
- Finding Aid Authors: P. Maus.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Collecting Area Details
Contact The University of Minnesota Duluth Archives and Special Collections Collecting Area
Kathryn A. Martin Library
University of Minnesota Duluth
416 Library Drive
Duluth MN 55812-3001