Woodbury declares emergency after pollution knocks out 6 of city’s 19 wells; $5M needed for filtering plant
By Bob Shaw | firstname.lastname@example.org | Pioneer Press
PUBLISHED: January 9, 2020 at 12:24 pm | UPDATED: January 9, 2020 at 5:02 pm
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Woodbury has declared an emergency because six of the city’s 19 water wells are contaminated with chemicals made by the 3M Co.
The declaration, made by unanimous vote Wednesday of the City Council, will allow the city to obtain about $5 million to build a temporary plant to filter out the pollution.
The city’s water remains — as always — safe to drink, according to Woodbury Utilities Manager Jim Westerman.
But with six of the wells shut down by the pollution, the city will not be able to meet the anticipated summertime demand for water.
Westerman said the 13 on-line wells are adequate to supply the city in the winter, with an average demand of about 5 million gallons a day. But last summer, the peak demand was about 16 million gallons in one day — more than the city’s 13 wells can handle.
3M manufactured perfluorochemicals starting in the 1940s, for use in domestic products including non-stick cookware and stain repellant. It legally disposed of the chemicals in dumpsites in Lake Elmo, Oakdale and Woodbury, ending in the 1970s.
In 2004, traces of the chemicals were discovered in drinking water of about 60,000 people in the area.
In large doses, the chemicals have been shown to cause birth defects, thyroid problems and cancer in laboratory animals. Traces of the chemicals, measured in parts per trillion, have been found in people and animals around the world.
In 2018, 3M agreed to pay $850 million to settle a suit by the state attorney general, who said the chemicals had damaged the environment.