Concerns grow over contaminated water supply in Lake Elmo

Contaminated Water Concerns


Lake Elmo is the fastest-growing city in the state — and the clean water supply can’t keep up.

The city in the east metro says it’s been using a contaminated well to supplement the water supply as a solution — for now.

Lake Elmo officials say the water is still safe to drink because it doesn’t reach the unsafe level for contaminants, yet there are still concerns years after so-called forever chemicals were found in the groundwater.

RELATED: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to use new technology to clean water in the east metro

Some neighbors in the area called it irresponsible.

“It’s not the right thing to do; it’s just not morally right,” said Jen Foster, who works in Lake Elmo.

City officials say the water in the wells usually gets too low on Fridays and they can’t keep up with demand.

They tap into a well contaminated with PFAS — a chemical toxin — and blend it with the clean water.

RELATED: Federal study finds nearly half of US tap water contains PFAS

“You don’t know what this is going to do to people; we have no cause and effect… why would they even think that that would be alright,” Foster said.

At this time, the city administrator says it’s not a public health risk according to current EPA standards. However, they predict when the agency releases new guidelines this fall, the chemicals will exceed the limit.

Lake Elmo has tried to reduce the use of the well by switching to a two-day per week watering ban for the public.

“What the health experts told me, we’re not there yet — but I think this is where Lake Elmo was really trying to get ahead of that before we have those dire situations and really trying to be proactive in solving this problem,” Lake Elmo City Administrator Kristina Handt said.

The city says it has submitted applications to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to treat the contaminated well and to make improvements to the system.

A third water tower will be online this fall which will provide some relief for the city.