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Lake Elmo issues red alert, shuts down well over PFCs in water supplies

Lake Elmo is one of the cities where 3M used for the disposal of PFCs.

The city of Lake Elmo has issued an alert after finding heightened levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in one of its water towers and one of its wells

In an announcement Tuesday, the city said it would be taking the city's well No.1 and water tower No. 1 offline after receiving the information about PFC levels from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

In order to compensate for the loss of the tower and well, the city will increase pressure from its No. 2 and 4 towers to ensure water supplies to homes and emergency services continue as usual.

The move prompted the city to issue a CodeRED Alert, KSTP reports.

Taking the two facilities offline will also allow the city to flush its water system, officials said, noting that some residents had recently complained of having brown water in their homes.


– 3M agrees $850M settlement with state of Minnesota over PFC contamination.

MDH told Bring Me The News that testing of Well No. 1 found the level of the PFC chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was above its "Health Based Value" for the fourth consecutive quarter.

PFOA is commonly found in contaminated groundwater in the Lake Elmo area, with MDH saying the levels in water supplies were at 45 ppt (parts per trillion) and the recommended MDH Health Based Value is 35 ppt.

It told Lake Elmo of the finding and will be issuing "Notice of Health Advisory" to the city in the coming days, which follows three similar notices being issued to nearby Oakdale, Cottage Grove and Woodbury last year.

""No additional actions on the part of residents will be needed," MDH spokesman Doug Schultz said. "The city administrator told us that if a serious drought occurs this summer the city may need to employ additional restrictions on water use."

Historic concerns over 3M dumping

Concerns about PFCs in Lake Elmo are particularly significant given it was one of the cities involved in the lawsuit about 3M's historic disposal of PFCs it used in its products.

The company dumped wastewater containing PFCs at four sites in Cottage Grove, Oakdale, Woodbury and Lake Elmo over several decades.

The state's Attorney General Lori Swanson alleged the Fortune 500 company's disposal of PFCs caused it to seep into eastern metro water supplies, arguing it caused a number of health problems to residents, which 3M denied.

3M agreed a $850 million settlement with the city last month, which will be used to improve water quality and sustainability in the eastern metro.

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