COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. — Cottage Grove is cleaning up its water, and 3M is paying for it.
The city announced Tuesday, Dec. 3, that it plans to build a $2 million station to filter water from the city’s polluted wells. The plant will be the third filtration station built in Cottage Grove to remove chemicals manufactured by 3M.
The plants are similar to a filtration plant being built in St. Paul Park.
Funding for all plants is coming from the 3M Corp. According to the terms of a 2007 settlement, the company must pay $40 million for short-term mitigation for water pollution — including the costs of the water filtering stations.
The new filtration plant will be in Cottage Grove’s Foothill Park. The building will be roughly the size of a seven-car garage.
The facility will be on line early next summer, according to City Engineer Ryan Burfeind.
He said the plant will take care of the city’s biggest worry regarding water — peak usage in the summertime.
Last summer, the city was forced to impose a ban on outdoor watering. Two of the city’s 12 wells were polluted, and the remaining 10 could not handle the demand.
The plant will be able to filter water from one of the two polluted wells, said Burfeind. Two other plants of similar size were built in 2017.
The $40 million for short-term solutions is separate from the $850 million settlement in 2018, resulting from the attorney general suing 3M for damaging the environment. That money was designated for long-term projects to remove pollution from water and projects to enhance natural resources.
After legal fees and other expenses, $720 million remains. Two advisory groups are now studying how to spend that money.
3M manufactured the perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, starting in the 1940s. They were used for household products including nonstick cookware, fire extinguishers and stain repellent.
The company legally dumped the chemicals in landfills in Washington County, where they apparently leaked into groundwater. The company stopped making two types of PFCs in 2002.
In 2004 traces of the chemicals were discovered in drinking water in Oakdale, Lake Elmo, Woodbury, St. Paul Park and Cottage Grove.