Read the full article by Alex Jokich (5 Eyewitness News)

“More than 170,000 people in the east metro are receiving new answers about the long-term plan for their drinking water.

After years of debate, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released their $700 million plan Wednesday.

It provides a framework for safe and sustainable drinking water for 14 communities affected by groundwater contamination by 3M.

Some of the larger cities involved include Woodbury, Cottage Grove, Lake Elmo, Oakdale and Maplewood.

‘The residents of the east metro, they didn’t ask for [polyfluoroalkyl] contamination from 3M,’ MPCA Commissioner Peter Tester said during a media briefing Wednesday. 

The MPCA said the groundwater contamination happened from the 1950s through the 1970s, when 3M disposed of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAs. Those are synthetic chemicals the company developed to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water, such as nonstick cookware.

The company dumped those chemicals at four sites in Washington County, leading to widespread drinking water contamination, which was first detected in 2004.

In 2018, the State of Minnesota and 3M settled for $850 million for the damages to the state’s natural resources. 

Some of those funds were spent on immediate, temporary solutions to treat water in the east metro so it could be safe to drink.

For the past three years, state agencies have evaluated various options for how to use the remainder of the money on long-term solutions to fix the water supply. 

The MPCA and the DNR said they held nearly 80 public and workgroup meetings and fielded hundreds of comments in crafting their final plan.

The plan presented Wednesday involves building or expanding six new water treatment plants, treating 33 municipal wells, connecting 296 homes to city water and giving filtration systems to homes on private wells. 

The state provided a detailed city-by-city breakdown of what that looks like.

‘We will work with individual communities, for instance, Woodbury or Oakdale or Cottage Grove, and they will move forward and do the actual design work, construction work and the state will make sure they have the funds for it,’ said Kirk Koudelka, assistant commissioner of the MPCA. 

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked when the plan will start being implemented.

‘That could start today. For instance, we have already put out the materials to start putting together the process to get dollars to the local communities to start design and planning work on the municipal systems,’ Koudelka said.”…