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Working groups proposed for $850 million 3M settlement

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Public meetings have been added and rescheduled in light of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources announcing working groups that will serve as stakeholders and decision-makers for the $850 million 3M Corp. and state of Minnesota settlement.

A meeting in Woodbury has been added and the Lake Elmo meeting, originally scheduled for March 29, has been pushed back.

RELATED: East metro reps take on 3M settlement

The Woodbury public meeting will be 6-8 p.m. April 10 in the Woodbury High School cafeteria, 2665 Woodlane Drive. The Lake Elmo public meeting is not set for 6-8 p.m. April 12 at the Oak-Land Middle School, 820 Manning Ave.

The Cottage Grove public meeting is still scheduled from 6-8 p.m. April 3 at Park High School, 8040 80th St.

The MPCA and DNR have proposed a working group and three subgroups that will consider how to use the $720 million remaining after legal fees.

The proposed working group would have one representative each from Cottage Grove, Woodbury, St. Paul Park, Newport, Grey Cloud Island, Afton, Oakdale, Lake Elmo, Maplewood, Denmark Township, West Lakeland Township, the DNR, MPCA, Minnesota Department of Health, 3M, Washington County and the Metropolitan Council.

The DNR and MPCA also would select 10 at-large citizens, businesses, and non-government representatives to be on the working group.

The group would meet quarterly to discuss progress and possible projects.

Municipalities would be able to submit their needs through the working group and subgroups.

The proposed subgroups are drinking water replacement; groundwater protection, sustainability, conservation and recharge; and the operating group. The first two subgroups are meant to reflect the two priorities Attorney General Lori Swanson, the MPCA and the DNR laid out after the settlement: safe drinking water and groundwater sustainability; and restoring and enhancing natural resources.

Working group and subgroup meetings will be open to the public, with time saved at the end for questions from the citizens.

The drinking water replacement and the groundwater protection, sustainability, conservation and recharge subgroup will meet once a month and will provide recommendations to the working group.

The drinking water replacement subgroup would look specifically at what facilities or solutions East Metro communities need to provide clean drinking water below the MDH's health-based value recommendations for perfluorochemicals. The recommendation, 35 parts per trillion PFOA and 27 parts per trillion PFOS, was lowered from the federal Environmental Protection Agency's 70 parts per trillion for all PFCs.

The groundwater protection, sustainability, conservation and recharge subgroup would work similarly to the drinking water group, but focus more on restoring natural resources.

The third subgroup would comprise MPCA and DNR staff, and essentially be a support group working to coordinate meetings, draft agendas and track projects.

Once the groups begin their work, additional studies may need to be completed, as well as more subgroups could be created.

A comment period on the proposal lasts until mid-April; the groups are expected to start meeting by the end of April.