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Viewpoint: Cottage Grove is working to supply water to all

I know that the timing of the city of Cottage Grove's watering ban is difficult. I know that the weather is hot, and the recent lack of rain has many missing the city's splash pad, or have concerns about their lawns and gardens. But I also know that it's important that the city have the capacity to deliver water at all times for households to cook, clean and bathe.

This is why we had to put the watering ban in place after the Minnesota Department of Health informed the city of the new lower health-based values. Once we learned that eight out of the 11 city wells would not meet the new values, we acted fast to make sure every resident had safe drinking water. We took five wells off line and began blending the other three that didn't meet the new limits with our wells that did. By doing so, the city's water meets the new values, but there is less available.

Right now, we are only operating three wells at full capacity, and another three at limited capacity. Our water capacity is roughly half of what is normally available to supply the city.

I've been asked, why did we take the wells offline immediately? As your mayor, I want all of us to be safe. We had too many wells above the new health-based limits and we needed to be in compliance with the state's limits. We needed to ensure we had safe drinking water for everyone.

We are working hard to restore this capacity and get our wells back online. Work has already begun to install a temporary treatment facility for one of the offline wells.

It's not a simple task. This work involves installing piping and multiple carbon filtration tanks, electrical work, and building a temporary facility to house the new tanks. Grading and concrete work is underway. We expect to be able to bring that well online by late July, which will help ease some of the outdoor watering restrictions.

But for the time being, it's important to respect the watering ban we have in place. Otherwise, we simply won't be able to supply water to everyone on a hot day, when it's most in demand. The city doesn't want to give anyone a fine for violating the water ban, and will educate the offender first, but if needed, citations will be issued. The citation would be a misdemeanor and has a mandatory court appearance and fine up to $1,000. Please do your part, and ask your friends, family, and neighbors to do theirs too.

Going forward, I will be providing a weekly update in the South Washington County Bulletin until this water emergency is over. For more information, you can visit www.cottage-grove.org/water-ban for the most up-to-date information. Thank you for your help to make sure all of Cottage Grove receives the water it needs when it needs it.

Myron Bailey is the mayor of Cottage Grove

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