Duluth Public Works & Utilities Department

duluth public works and the lift bridge

The city of Duluth, MN is one of the few municipalities that owns and operates the utilities that all business and residents rely on daily. The Public Works and Utilities Department manages all aspects of the drinking water, sanitary sewers and natural gas for the city and some of the surrounding communities.

In 2010 the Department and city leaders realized that much of the SCADA infrastructure that the citizens relied on for these services had significantly aged and needed to be updated. The project had a $2.5 million budget which included control and communication upgrades to 24 gas sites, 50 lift stations and 16 water sites.


The city of Duluth is in Northeastern MN on the shores of Lake Superior, with over 80,000 residents; 6 million tourists visit annually. It is the second largest city in Minnesota by land area, with over 87 square miles of land. Duluth also has an extreme topography, with steep hills rising sharply from the lake (some over 1,000 feet), making all public works projects complicated to engineer.


PRIMEX was selected as the contractor and integrator to develop and manage all aspects of the rejuvenation of the city’s SCADA infrastructure. The biggest issue was that the control equipment for all three entities (wastewater collection, drinking water distribution and natural gas distribution) was obsolete and not in working order. PRIMEX was awarded the contract and operated with the City on a “design and build” basis, including the implementation and commission of every aspect of the project.

The two-and-a-half-year project included control modification to every site, including radio telemetry to connect all remote sites with the central SCADA system running on Wonderware System Platform for all three entities. The topography of Duluth made radio communication historically a challenge. PRIMEX developed a combination of radio and wireless broadband to provide redundant systems that ensured reliable communication.

As part of the complete integration services provided, PRIMEX was tasked with overall system documentation which included a comprehensive description of operation along with controller programming and overall system commissioning.


PRIMEX was able to deploy Wonderware System Platform across all three entities and yet use only one application. Redundant servers and redundant communications links were used to ensure all communications and remote sites operated as desired. PRIMEX has been retained as the SCADA Integrator for the City.


City of Duluth, Minnesota

Pete Upton
(218) 730-5003

September 2010 – March 2012


Dale Cormier, Project Manager
Todd Holtz, PRIMEX


  • General Contractor
  • Manejo de Proyecto
  • Design and Engineering
  • Programming Programmable Logic Controllers
  • SCADA Software Programming
  • Network configuration services
  • Operator training
  • Commissioning