The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a comment letter Dec. 1 to the Minnesota Pollution Agency regarding the Conceptual Drinking Water Supply Plan developed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as co-trustees in the 3M Settlement Process to address groundwater contamination in the East Metropolitan area.

In 2018, the State of Minnesota and 3M settled a Natural Resources Damages lawsuit for $850 million. The terms of the settlement called for the funds to be used to provide safe and sustainable drinking water and improve natural resources in the east metropolitan area. Over the last two years, the state has been developing a Conceptual Drinking Water Supply Plan for the region.

The comment letter states that the county is encouraged that the options put forth by the co-trustees provide assurance that settlement funds will be available to treat drinking water to meet health standards even if those standards are strengthened further.

The county suggests the state provide additional information on the decisions within the plan related to operation and maintenance costs into the future, specifically clarifying the differences between treating public water systems versus private wells.

The letter also says that the county recognizes the importance, and advocates for the setting aside of funds for “drinking water protection” and “sustainability and conservation” to the extent possible. The county has many similar goals in both its Comprehensive Plan, and its county Groundwater Plan.

In addition, the county stated that use of funds related to natural resource enhancements be held off until such a time when all parties are confident that drinking water protection will be achieved.

Finally, the county encouraged the state to make sure the selected options are fully supported by the impacted communities.

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