Lake Elmo to receive 3M settlement cash for new well

file photo A planned groundwater well will replace a city well contaminated with chemicals made by 3M, with the help of about $2 million from a settlement 3M made with the state.

To replace a well contaminated with a 3M-manufactured chemical, Lake Elmo is receiving some $2 million from the State of Minnesota. The exact amount is still being ironed out. 

The money comes from the $850 million grant 3M paid in 2018 to settle its lawsuit with the state. Lake Elmo hopes to get the money in April, said City Administrator Kristina Handt. 


Contamination and resolution 

Regulators become aware that perfluorochemicals, or PFCs, which 3M produced from the 1940s until 2002, were harmful to people around 2000. The chemical, used to make tough coatings like Teflon, had already been found in groundwater since the 1960s. 

3M restitution began with an agreement between the company and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in 2007. It spelled out what 3M was responsible for and included a $40 million settlement for short-term drinking water needs. 

In 2010, Minnesota sued 3M, alleging the company’s production of PFCs damaged drinking water and natural resources in the Twin Cities metro. 3M settled in February 2018 with a $850 grant, about $720 million of which will go to impacted cities like Lake Elmo.

A month later in March 2018, Lake Elmo was informed by the MPCA, Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health that one of its wells had been contaminated. The city immediately shut down the well and cleared its water tower. Last summer, the state filled the city’s water tower.

Around that same time, Lake Elmo city staffers considered their options, like treating the well or rigging a water hook-up with another city, before landing on a plan to dig a new well. 

“The state has been supportive of our request to resolve the issue by getting a new well,” said Handt.

The new well is planned to be a bit larger than the existing well. The rougly $2 million from the state will cover the cost of replacing the capacity of the older well, and Lake Elmo will pay around $140,000 for the extra well space. 

Down a well last summer, the city “had water capacity concerns,” said Handt. She said the city is appreciative for “finally being taken care of.”

“We’re pleased with the resolution. It’s too bad that 3M couldn’t make it right a long time ago,” added Handt. 

The city will begin construction of the new well after receiving the cash from the state.


–Solomon Gustavo can be reached at or 651-748-7815.

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