The Upper St. Croix Watershed was the centerpiece of an Earth Day celebration last month in the community of Solon Springs, Wisconsin.
Solon Springs and the Solon Springs School District commemorated the completion of a new and expanded wastewater treatment facility with ceremonies at both the Solon Springs School, and the site of the new treatment facility.
“The Upper St. Croix watershed impacts the quality of water resources from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico,” said Stan Gruszynski, USDA Rural Development State Director. “The citizens of Solon Springs deserve to be commended for their civic-mindedness and willingness to make the investment in a clean environment and responsible stewardship of one of our most critical resources….water!”
Village President Mike Blaylock said the village worked with USDA Rural Development, the Solon Springs School District, Ayers Engineering, education and community leaders, and others to use the occasion as a way to teach the importance of environmental protection and a way to reflect on the history and heritage of Earth Day in Wisconsin.
The celebration featured Earth Day and conservation demonstrations and exhibits created by the students, and a school assembly recognizing 33 students who have shown outstanding efforts and leadership in environmental stewardship. Children also participated in an Earth Day logo drawing contest, with third grader Elijah Molina creating the winning design. The logo will be used as next year’s USDA Rural Development Wisconsin Earth Day logo.
The Upper St. Croix Watershed and the focus on the need to protect the environment moved former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, of Wisconsin, to initiate the formation of Earth Day in 1970. It was following the first Earth Day celebration, which demonstrated widespread grassroots support for environmental legislation.
The Upper St. Croix Watershed is environmentally sensitive as the St. Croix River has origins from the springs and waterways that are located in the area. The St. Croix River is classified as a wild and scenic area and the construction and operation of a municipal wastewater treatment plant in Solon Springs is a desired method to protect the valuable water resource that originates there.
To meet existing and future wastewater treatment requirements of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), it was necessary to do major renovations to the existing wastewater treatment plant. The needs were funded with an Army Corps of Engineers grant and by USDA Rural Development with a loan and a grant. Funding from USDA Rural Development was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The upgrades bring the plant into compliance with WDNR requirements, prevent contamination to surrounding groundwater, and protect the nearby headwaters of the St. Croix System and Watershed.