Lake Elmo reaches settlement with 3M to fix water pollution

After nearly a decade-long legal battle, the city of Lake Elmo says they've finally reached a settlement with 3M to fix their water pollution problem. The settlement was approved at Tuesday night's city council meeting.

Lake Elmo will be receiving $2.7 million and ownership of approximately 180 acres of land, which 3M will transfer to the city.

It's unclear what exactly will be developed on that land, but city leaders indicated the money will go toward a new well to provide clean water.

The settlement funds are being distributed by the state's pollution control agency and the health department. It’s the state’s first distribution from $850 million paid by 3M a year ago to settle an environmental damage lawsuit brought by the state attorney general.

The city manager says the basis of their lawsuit was the damages the city's infrastructure suffered responding to the contamination.

“We’ve increased our debt…water customers have felt the brunt of that, so that’s why the $2.7 million will go back into our water fund to compensate for some of those losses,” said Lake Elmo City Manager Kristina Handt.

3M manufactured chemicals called PFC's - used in household products - and legally dumped them in landfills decades ago. High doses of the chemicals have now been linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems. Traces of these chemicals were found in the drinking water of several communities in the northeast metro in 2004.

The city will dismiss its lawsuit against 3M as part of the proposed settlement. Other cities have received millions of dollars for water-cleaning projects in relation to 3M.