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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.
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Private wells are the responsibility of private landowners. Private landowners should consider having their well tested.
Complete the Private Drinking Water Well Sampling Request Form on the with MDH.
As of July 2023, 10 of the city's 20 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 six of these wells to meet water quality standards and guidelines for PFAS. Of the four remaining affected wells, one has been permanently abandoned; two are temporarily removed from service; and one remains available for service to meet short duration peak water demand.
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.
There is information on the MDH regarding the effectiveness of home treatment options.
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 several public meetings on this topic since the beginning of 2019.
Information also is available on the MDH PFAS sites and what PFAS are, and the State of Minnesota's dedication to the settlement with 3M and the process for identifying long-term treatment solutions.
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 and approving the long-term treatment solutions. A pilot study of effective PFAS treatment technologies was implemented during the construction of the Temporary Water Treatment Facility and is still underway.
In February 2023, the city hired a team of engineers to begin design of the Woodbury Water Treatment Plant along with associated pipelines and infrastructure. The design will include recommendations from the pilot study to develop an effective long-term treatment process for the new water treatment facility. Many other factors for construction of the new Woodbury Water Treatment Plant including layout, process designs, construction sequencing and scheduling, and pipeline engineering and design are also being finalized during this phase.
The final design of the facility is estimated to be complete in 2024 and construction of the new facility will follow.
Approximately 90% of the water treatment plant and pipeline costs are anticipated to be paid for through the approximately $700 million (after legal fees) from the 2018 3M and State of Minnesota Settlement Agreement. Preliminary estimates indicate Woodbury’s water treatment plant will cost more than $300 million, depending on several factors, including future possible changes to health standards and guidelines for PFAS.
With more than 80,000 residents, Woodbury is the largest city impacted by PFAS in the East Metro and the settlement funding is critical to providing a community-wide solution for generations to come.
The city’s share of the cost is expected to range between $22 million and $40 million based on 30% design estimates. These non-settlement funds are needed to treat wells that currently do not have health advisories and for other associated project items needed to position the community for the future. Woodbury is proactively planning to address these costs through responsible utility rate changes beginning in 2024. The city also sought and received $3.4 million in federal dollars in 2023 to help offset some of these future costs. In addition, the city continues advocating to the state co-trustees for the settlement to cover as much of Woodbury’s project costs as possible.
The city recognizes the need to carefully balance managing our water supply with continuing to meet the housing needs of the community. The City Council approved some significant changes to the city’s growth management policies July 19, 2023, that will delay the start of development in some areas of the city until we are closer to the permanent water treatment plant being operational later this decade. This action was taken as an additional contingency planning effort to mitigate the impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on the water system. Previous contingent planning efforts approved by the City Council include adding temporary water treatment; changing lawn watering restrictions; managing wells to limit use of contaminated wells; modeling an additional water tower for storage; educating and communicating, and implementing other water efficiency measures.
This is the second time in the last two years the City Council has tightened the growth management policy to reduce the pace of growth in the community and added development controls and review opportunities. The City Council retains discretion on the timing of opening of sub-phases for development and timing of master planning efforts in advance of development activity.
Modeling data shows the most significant driver of water demand within the community is the discretionary use of water for lawn irrigation by existing homes, businesses, and homeowners associations. The best thing residents, homeowners associations and businesses can do to help is to reduce lawn irrigation use during the summer months and follow the updated irrigation policy zones.