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Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program

Final Report

Knife River-Larsmont Sanitary District

Submitted by: Vicki Ojard – District Clerk

December 7, 2007

Project No.306-09-07

Contract No. A78905

This project was funded in part under the Coastal Zone Management Act, by
NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in
cooperation with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program.

The Knife River-Larsmont Sanitary District (KRLSD) is experiencing a extreme amount

of residential development and desired to promote responsible and environmentally
sound growth within the district. To accomplish this goal the District need current parcel
mapping to help define current parcel density. The District resides along the shore of
Lake Superior just north of the city of Duluth and south of the city of Two Harbors. The
region is a semi-rural area and has very shallow soils, with land cover being mostly
northern boreal type forest combined with lake frontage beach typical of the “Iron


A data collection process was procured in cooperation with Lake County. The County
was contacted to acquire records, database information and any GIS information relevant
to the project. Additional information was acquired from the Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources to provide additional information details, especially for environmental
information. Other data specific to the district was procured, most of which included
outdated hard copy maps of the district sanitary sewer system and plans.

The base map was completed with data provided by Lake County from their initial GIS
efforts. Information provided was the parcel polygons and the County’s parcel database.
The District base map was in need of additional information as it was missing detail
needed to provide a rich base map for the District utility needs. Road right of ways were
created and fitted to the parcels. Other base layers were collected from the DNR and then
spatially improved to fit the parcel data. The parcel database was then digitally “linked”
to the parcel polygons providing access to ownership information. Because parcel data
was available the project was enhanced to include sanitary sewer and storm sewer layer
development within the confines of the existing agreement.

The GPS survey of utility information and other base map points was completed using a
Trimble GeoXT series GPS unit. Sanitary sewer and storm sewer information was
collected. Manholes, lift stations, grinder pumps, storm system inlets and outlets were
located using the GPS system. GPS data was “post-processed” to remove redundant and
atmospheric interference. This process uses field collected base station information from
the area as “holding positions” to adjust the field data and improve overall accuracy.

Once field collection, base map prep, and parcel data collection were completed the GIS
was assembled. Base layers were assembled and the parcel data overlaid on this base.
The sanitary district data was created using existing documentation and then field
checked by engineering staff for completeness and locations. Once field checks were
finished the final data was plotted into map books for District use.

The last step was the development of a web based GIS system for use by the District staff
and consultants to help track system information and parcel ownership changes. The GIS
intended to be used to track and monitor future development and building in the District.
It allows access to parcel data, ownership information, sanitary sewer information and
storm sewer information.

Educational activities included staff training for the district clerk on the use of the GIS
and how to extract information for parcels and sewer data for future expansion to provide
services to development. The applications will allow staff to generate quick maps, lists
and notifications for meetings on District issues. The system will also be used to track
system maintenance issues and needs as well as provide conditional reporting.
Additional training on GPS for 2 staff to assist with system maintenance was also
completed to allow the use of this technology to track incremental changes.


Map sets for parcels and utilities have been generated for the District. Map books for of
the District sewer facilities were generated for staff use in vehicles. This will help with
future maintenance efforts. A parcel map set were also plotted in large format for office

MSA developed a web based GIS system to help implement GIS use efficiently. This
GIS is built on ESRI’s ArcIMS web GIS technology and is easily expandable. The
viewer has separate controls to allow users to directly interact with the map. Classic
functions include zooming and pan tools, as well as an identify and selection icons that
will interact with database components of the active layer. Other functions include parcel
buffering (selection within a distance) and mailing label generation tools, Adobe PDF
“map maker”, measuring and printing tools.

Database layer controls are displayed on the left frame of the application that allows users
change layer display and turn layers on or off. Scale sensitivity is built into the
application to prevent users from turning layers on that cannot be visualized at given
zoom extents. The layers list will also
Toggle off/on various databases that for
various features. This will allow
the City the opportunity build and
expand future GIS layers and databases.
As each layer is activated or
highlighted, the system database is
then selected. Once selected feature
attributes are displayed as features
on selected on the screen or queried
from the database. At the present
time the database attributes are
minimal for some layers due to the
lack of information available. As
time permits the City will begin
development of additional
information on the different layers.

Web GIS Overview 1


The development of the parcel data, District mapping with the sewer layers and
associated databases will help the District with future maintenance and replacement
schedules as needed. The parcel data will help them with system planning as
development continues to spread into the region from neighboring Duluth.
Additional value is that the District can quickly access map information either digitally or
via GIS generated mapping and not rely on staff knowledge of systems. This is
especially important to communities as the “baby-boomer” generation begins retiring and
taking all their community knowledge with them. This is vitally important to sewer
system operation in the coastal regions in order to avert system breakdowns and preserve
water quality in the area. Tapping into that staff knowledge to build a more robust
database system is very important and GIS begins this process. Future City projects
include maintenance of systems and data using GPS technology internally along with
other specialty tool development for the web GIS system.


To see the Knife River-Larsmont GIS system, go to