The treatment and dispersal of domestic wastewater from resorts is a significant issue in northeast
Minnesota due to the common occurrence of restrictive sites and poor soil conditions across the region.
Within the Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Agency (IRRRA) service area, called the Taconite Tax
Relief Area (TIRA), there are an estimated 400 resorts that depend on the use of onsite wastewater
treatment systems to treat and disperse wastewater generated at the facility back into the environment. Of
these, perhaps as many as 200 resorts could be in non-compliance with local/county ordinances or state
rules (Minnesota Rules Chapter 7080).
Pilot projects for resorts were initiated within the IRRRA service area in 1995 to demonstrate the use of
non-standard or alternative types of onsite wastewater treatment technologies effective on difficult sites.
This project was a cooperative effort by the IRRRA, Northern Lights Tourism Alliance (NL TA), counties in
northeast and north central Minnesota, the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) University of
Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Minnesota Department of Health.
Onsite wastewater treatment systems for the first pilot projects were constructed and monitored in 1996 at
Burntside Lodge, near Ely on Burntside Lake (McCarthy and Monson Geerts, 1998) and at Dodge's Log
Lodges, on the north shore of Lake Superior just south of Knife River. The third pilot project was
constructed and monitored in 1998 which services the IRRRA office building (Monson Geerts et al., 2002)
and the fourth project was constructed at Northern Lights Resort, located on Lake Kabetogama in 1999.
This report summarizes the construction and performance of the Northern lights Resort wastewater
treatment system during the first two summers of operation.
Final Report Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Agency, Northern Lights Tourism Alliance, Northern Lights Resort; Documentation of Construction and Performance Summer 1999 and 2000
University of Minnesota Duluth, Natural Resources Research Institute, 5013 Miller Trunk Highway, Duluth, MN 55811-1442
McCarthy, Barbara J; Monson Geerts, Stephen D; Henneck, Jerald.
Northern Lights Resort Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Ray, Minnesota.
University of Minnesota Duluth.
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