With Water Supply Strapped, Lake Elmo Seeking 3M Settlement Money More Quickly

May 23, 2018 10:17 PM

The water supply in the City of Lake Elmo is already strapped, and city leaders want to see the state move more quickly to spend some of the recent 3M lawsuit settlement money on urgent needs.

Low-water notifications were triggered on two of Lake Elmo's existing water wells over the weekend, and it forced the city to increase power to water pumps on those wells.

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RELATED: 3M Settles with State for $850M in PFC Lawsuit

The increased power helped avoid any need for severe water restrictions. But city leaders told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that low-water notifications in May have them concerned.

Lake Elmo City Council member Justin Bloyer said the warnings highlight the city's need to get some of the 3M settlement money sooner rather than later.

RELATED: State Looks at How to Use Money From 3M Settlement

"We have immediate needs for the 8,000 residents here," Bloyer said. 

"We cannot afford to wait around for the state to take their time getting that money out. And we are hearing now it could take up to five years to disperse all of that money."

RELATED: Closed Lake Elmo Water Well Had Poor Test Results for 12 Months

3M settled an environmental lawsuit with the state for $850 million several months ago, with some of that money targeted for emergency water supply needs in five east metro cities - including Lake Elmo.

RELATED: City of Lake Elmo Flushing Hydrants of Contaminants

Lake Elmo sits on top of a very large plume of chemicals which 3M legally dumped there decades ago. And the company has maintained the scientific evidence does not show any negative health effects on humans.

3M settled the lawsuit without admitting any wrongdoing. The money is meant to help with clean-up of the environment and local water supplies.

RELATED: Lake Elmo Issues Code Red after Heightened PFC Levels Discovered in Water

Lake Elmo City Administrator Kristina Handt said she is meeting with state officials to hopefully speed up the process of dispersing the settlement money.

"So far, months later, not a lot has been done," she said. "And the work groups the state wants to put together haven't materialized yet. So we are hopeful we can get together with them and roll up our sleeves and get to work on moving this along."

RELATED: MDH Finds No Link Between 3M and Cancer, Premature Birth Rates in East Metro

In an email, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said it might take as long as five years to spend the 3M settlement money. But the agency did say there is $40 million available right away to help cities with any emergency water needs they might experience in the interim.

So far, however, Lake Elmo city leaders said they have not received any portion of the settlement money.

RELATED: East Metro Residents Weigh in on Use of Money from 3M Settlement

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Jay Kolls

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