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Cloquet, Duluth Receive Grants to Plan Infrastructure Changes For Climate Change

CLOQUET, Minn. – How well can communities handle more intense rainfalls in the Northland?

That is what Cloquet, Duluth and 10 others in Minnesota are going to do thanks to grants from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that will fund planning for future infrastructure projects.

Each grant will help communities plan for a different climate that today; one that is expected to be warmer and with stronger storms.

“We have been hearing from local leaders across the state,” says Katrina Kessler, MPCA Commissioner,” that they didn’t have the capacity or resources to begin to assess their climate risks, and then to plan for ways for their communities to adapt and be more resilient and attract businesses and be vital and livable into the future.”

For Cloquet, they are receiving $106,000 to help them update the master plan for their storm water system, which has been around since the early 80s with few changes.   The city is putting $26,000 of its own funds towards the planning.

Mayor Roger Maki says one of their goals is to use climate change data to determine how well their current system could handle more intense downpours.  “We have started to work on things, and this enables us to really get in there.  A deep dive is a good way to put it, and so we can put our people to work.  With our consultants, we can come up with some good plans.”

Other goals the city has includes identifying parts of the city that could see more flash flooding, and estimating costs for projects that would update the storm water system.  Once a plan is completed, it will be easier for the city to apply for state and federal funding to pay for projects.

“We are very well positioned financially, being very careful through the years,” says Maki.  “We are in relatively good shape, but to take on major investment we need help, and we need some money.”

The city will allow people to point out places that need attention and are prone to flooding through an online map.

As for Duluth, they are receiving a $100,000 grant for planning related to their storm water resiliency plan.  It will be used to do an in-depth study on the 32nd Avenue West Creek watershed district, along with finding other infrastructure vulnerable to climate change.  Duluth is putting $16,000 towards this planning project as well.

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