PFAS in Groundwater
Of Woodbury’s 19 municipal wells, water from nine wells–based on the most current data–have detectable levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that on repeatable occasion exceed one or more thresholds established by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). All nine of these wells were removed from service upon receipt of a health advisory. Four wells were returned to service in June 2020 with treatment at the temporary water treatment plant in order to maintain supply levels. Two additional wells were returned to service with treatment in June 2022 with the expansion of the temporary treatment plant.
Woodbury’s drinking water continues to meet state standards and guidelines for PFAS.
Woodbury is working with state agencies to construct a permanent water treatment plant to remove PFAS from the city’s water supply. The letter below provides a reference to work accomplished and the need to address critical elements of the project to keep moving forward. The city continues to advocate for its residents and businesses in building the facility as quickly as possible while maximizing funds from the state’s 2018 3M settlement.
Per- and polyfluoroalkl substances (PFAS) were made and used by several companies around the world in household and industrial products such as stain repellents, lubricants, fire retardant and suppressants, and more. The 3M Company made PFAS at its Cottage Grove facility from the late 1940s until 2002.
PFAS wastes were disposed of at several sites in Washington County including locations in Lake Elmo, Oakdale and in southern Woodbury near Woodbury Drive (3M Woodbury site). The source of the PFAS in our groundwater has been identified as these disposal sites and the manufacturing facility in Cottage Grove.
Funding for the Woodbury temporary water treatment plant is provided through the 2018 settlement agreement between the State of Minnesota and 3M. This arrangement includes a $40 million provision for temporary facilities meeting the requirements of the 2007 settlement agreement between the same two parties.
If you have questions about the city's water system and the impact of PFAS, contact the Public Works Department.
The final Conceptual Drinking Water Supply Plan (CDWSP), released by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in August 2021, provides safe, sustainable drinking water to the 14 East Metro communities affected by PFAS now and into the future. Each of the 14 communities received a tailored project list based on their needs, community feedback and cost estimates.
For questions about the plan, send an email to the state.
In 2011, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) completed remediation activities at these sites to reduce the number of pollutants released from these sites in the future.
3M, under direction from the MPCA, continues active site remediation. For the Woodbury site, the remaining contamination is captured by pumping approximately 1.25 billion gallons of water annually to a treatment plant and discharging it to the Mississippi River.
Visit the MPCA for more information about the remediation activities.
Temporary water treatment plant
The City of Woodbury’s temporary water treatment plant began operating in June 2020. The facility, located near the intersection of Valley Creek Road and Tower Drive, is treating water from four wells to meet water quality standards and guidelines for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) using granular activated carbon.
Permanent water treatment plant
In late August, the city purchased a parcel of land south of Hargis Parkway and east of Radio Drive for future construction of a permanent water treatment facility.
As a result of the EPA's new guidance and MDH updated HBV for PFOA and PFOS, MDH is sampling private wells within Washington County and will issue additional drinking water advisories as needed. Until their private wells are tested, residents who have concerns about their health can take steps to reduce their potential exposure to PFAS. Information on point-of-use filters and other steps people can take in their homes can be found with the MDH.
Private water well owners or residents interested in treating the water after it reaches their home can learn about it with the Home Water Treatment Fact Sheet
Residents who have questions about their private water supply well and whether it is impacted by this change should contact MDH.
We are aware of the updated interim health advisories for four per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) announced June 15, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
While these new health-based guidelines are not enforceable, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) are evaluating the EPA’s science in the development of their guidance and have indicated they will be making recommendations in the months ahead on any changes to state standards, guidelines, and or health advisories.
Woodbury’s drinking water continues to meet state standards and guidelines for PFAS.
- What is PFAS and how did it get in the water?
PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The 3M Company made PFAS at its Cottage Grove facility beginning in the 1940s. They were commonly used in household and industrial products such as stain repellents, lubricants, fire retardants and suppressants, and more. PFAS wastes were disposed of at various locations in Washington County. The source of PFAS in Woodbury's groundwater has been identified as these disposal sites.
- Can I drink the water?
Yes, the water the city delivers to customers meets all State of Minnesota standards and guidelines for PFAS.
- I have a private well. How do I know if I am impacted by PFAS?
Private wells are the responsibility of private landowners. Private landowners should consider having their well tested.
- How many Woodbury municipal wells exceed PFAS water quality standards and guidelines?
Nine of the city's 19 wells currently exceed PFAS water quality standards and guidelines.
The temporary water treatment facility, located near the intersection of Valley Creek Road and Tower Drive, is currently treating water from four of these wells to meet water quality standards and guidelines for PFAS. The remaining five wells have been removed from service.
- Which well is serving my home?
The City of Woodbury has a one-pressure-zone system. This means no one particular well serves a specific area. The water is distributed throughout the system and well usage is rotated frequently as part of regular operation.
- How much will the temporary treatment plant cost and how will the project be funded?
Funding for the Woodbury temporary water treatment plant is provided through the 2018 settlement agreement between the State of Minnesota and 3M. This arrangement includes a $40 million provision for temporary facilities meeting the requirements of the 2007 settlement agreement between the same two parties. Total cost for construction of the temporary treatment plant was approximately $10.5 million.
Operation and maintenance costs are also covered under the $40 million provision. At this time it is projected to cost an average of approximately $600,000-$800,000 a year for operation and maintenance.
- What type of private, at-home treatment options are available?
There is information on the MDH regarding the effectiveness of home treatment options.
- Why was the temporary treatment plant constructed near Valley Creek Road and Tower Drive?
This is the most viable location. The property had been identified as a potential location for a water treatment facility for decades and is in close proximity to the three impacted wells that will be treated. A fourth impacted well also will be connected to the facility with a new water main. State funding for the project is predicated on the facility located on this property.
- Will the construction of the temporary water treatment plant impact the nearby Tamarack Nature Preserve?
There is no anticipated impact on the preserve. Staff is working with several agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources and the Ramsey-Washington Watershed District, to ensure the natural areas surrounding the temporary water treatment facility are appropriately protected.
- I didn't know PFAS was in the water or that a temporary water treatment plant was under consideration. Where can I learn more?
The city has been sharing updates about PFAS in the water since 2007 in the City Update newsletter, on the city's website, via its InTouch email notification system*, on its YouTube channel, and through the local media. Information also is provided in the annual Water Quality Report. Updates will continue to be provided through these channels. There also have been more than 30 public meetings on this topic since the beginning of 2019.
- What is the long-term solution on treatment for PFAS and when will it be implemented?
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources are leading the effort with the impacted communities under the 3M and Statement of Minnesota Settlement Agreement in identifying the long-term treatment solutions. In September 2020, the state announced three draft options for long-term treatment solutions.
- View state's draft options*
- Comments on State of Minnesota Conceptual Drinking Water Supply (PDF)
- The public comment period closes December 10, 2020*
The Woodbury City Council passed a resolution in October 2019 declaring the community's goals for a long-term water treatment solution.
- Who will pay for the long-term solution for treatment of PFAS?
Long-term solutions for the treatment of PFAS in drinking water are to be paid for from the approximately $700 million 3M and State of Minnesota Settlement Agreement that will go to east metro communities. Preliminary estimates indicate Woodbury’s long-term treatment facility will cost at least $150 million, maybe more, depending on several factors and other future possible changes to health standards and guidelines. It will be the largest public infrastructure project in the city’s history.
The city intends to use as much of the state settlement money to cover the costs as allowed, but other funding measures (utility rate changes, other state/federal funding sources, etc.) may be needed to close the gap if the city determines to treat the entire system. Any city funding for this project will require City Council approval.
For details, visit the State of Minnesota's website dedicated to the settlement with 3M and the process for identifying long-term treatment solution.