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Council Perspective: State outlines plans for PFAS settlement funds; Woodbury water treatment plant included

By Mayor Anne Burt

On Aug. 18, the State of Minnesota released its long-term Water Supply Plan to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination in East Metro drinking water.

For the last three years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have been working with East Metro communities to identify long-term solutions for protecting the water supply. 

The work began in February 2018 when Minnesota's attorney general and 3M Company reached a settlement agreement after the state filed a lawsuit in 2010 alleging that 3M's production of PFAS had damaged drinking water and natural resources in the southeast Twin Cities metro area. 

Ensuring a sustainable water supply for future generations has been a specific strategic priority for the city since 2015, and we have worked closely with the state - advocating for our residents and businesses - in developing the long-term plan.

As we continue to digest the state's findings and final determinations regarding distribution of the remaining $700 million of 2018 3M settlement proceeds, it is important to know that the water delivered to our customers today continues to meet state and federal standards and guidelines for PFAS.

The most important outcomes for Woodbury in the state's Water Supply Plan include:
  • Land acquisition for a long-term water treatment facility.
  • Funding the construction of a long-term centralized water treatment facility and associated distribution system to treat all Woodbury public water production wells that measure greater than or equal to a health index of 0.5, which, as of today, is 15 of the city's 19 wells. Given the state's health index standard is 1.0, treating wells higher than 0.5 - but still under the threshold of 1.0 - is a critical win for us because it provides resilience in treatment should water quality standards change in the future. While we won't know the final cost of the treatment facility until we complete the public bidding and subsequent construction process, we do expect it will be the largest public investment project in the city's history. (See adjacent water treatment facility article for details.)
  • Abandonment of one of the city's existing public water production wells (permanently off line due to location and PFAS impacts)  and replacement with one new public water production well.
  • Supplying 18 homes on private wells with PFAS impacts with standalone point-of-entry treatment systems for PFAS removal.
  • Connecting five other properties currently with private wells with PFAS impacts to the city's public water system due to proximity of water mains. 
Implementation of solutions under way
I am gratified that we have already taken many steps toward temporary and long-term solutions. Last year, we constructed a temporary water treatment plant - with state funding via 3M agreements - in record time. Today, we are actively pursuing expanding the temporary water treatment plant capacity, which will be needed until the long-term treatment facility is fully operational. We are also implementing an additional production well to make up for lost capacity due to PFAS contamination as mentioned in the bulleted list above. 

The city will continue to advocate for residents and businesses as we work with state agencies to fully review and implement the Water Supply Plan, and we will continue to keep the public informed as we learn more.

The state held a virtual community meeting with East Metro residents Sept. 21 to share information about the Water Supply Plan, and the city will be engaging you through multiple channels to gather feedback about the proposed treatment solutions for PFAS. We'll also be discussing several water-related policy questions at our Oct. 20 Council workshop, which are always open to the public.

Read details about the history of PFAS in Woodbury wells and testing results

Private wells
Private wells are the responsibility of private landowners. Private landowners should consider having their well tested. For details, visit the MDH website.

If you have questions about the city's water system, contact Public Works at or 651-714-3720.