On Wednesday, Jan. 12, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) issued a health advisory for levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in a Woodbury municipal water production well.
The city officially removed the impacted well from service upon receipt of the health advisory from the MDH. Woodbury’s drinking water continues to meet state and federal standards and guidelines for PFAS. Of Woodbury’s 19 municipal wells, water from eight wells – based on the most current data – now have detectable levels of PFAS that on repeatable occasion exceed one or more thresholds established by the MDH. All eight of the wells, upon receipt of a health advisory, were removed from service. Four wells were returned to service in June 2020 with treatment at the temporary water treatment plant in order to maintain supply levels.
PFAS levels in additional city wells may be trending toward receipt of health advisories from MDH. Woodbury will continue working with the MDH to monitor, assess, and sample its water for PFAS. If MDH does issue health advisories on an additional well or wells, the city will immediately remove them from service until they can be treated. The public will be informed if/when new changes are detected.
The city continues to implement solutions to ensure the water system is able to meet demand on peak use days in summer 2022 with four of its 19 wells out of service. The temporary water treatment plant capacity is being expanded to bring an additional PFAS impacted well back into service (needed until the long-term treatment facility is fully operational in five or more years), and a new well is currently under construction to make up for a well that was permanently removed from service due to PFAS contamination.
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 in several sites in Washington County. The source of the PFAS in our groundwater has been identified as these former disposal sites.
In 2010, Minnesota’s attorney general sued 3M Company alleging that the company’s production of chemicals known as PFAS had damaged drinking water and natural resources in the southeast Twin Cities metro area, including Woodbury. On Feb. 20, 2018, the State of Minnesota and 3M reached a settlement agreement, with the state receiving a settlement from 3M for $850 million, with approximately $700 million directed to address PFAS in East Metro drinking water.
In August 2021, the State of Minnesota released its long-term Water Supply Plan for the East Metro drinking water and the city started implementing solutions, including acquiring land and implementing preliminary engineering and treatment technology pilot study for a long-term water treatment facility. It is expected to take five or more years to construct a centralized long-term water treatment facility.
Private water well owners or residents interested in treating the water after it reaches their home can learn about home treatment options by visiting the MDH website.
Residents who have questions about their private water supply well and whether it is impacted by PFAS should contact the MDH.
To learn more about PFAS, visit the MDH website or contact the MDH Site Assessment and Consultation Unit at 651-201-4897 or [email protected].
Review more details about the history of PFAS in Woodbury wells and testing results through 2021.