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Viewpoint: Cottage Grove water is safe to drink

Myron Bailey

Myron Bailey is mayor of Cottage Grove

When Cottage Grove announced a water sprinkling ban on May 23 some of our residents responded with concerns about cooking, doing laundry and bathing. Safe water in our community is as important to me as it is to you. I have lived in Cottage Grove all my life. I have multiple generations of family living here, my friends live here, and so do many of our city employees. We care deeply about the health and well-being of those who live, work, or visits Cottage Grove.

Why did we put a watering ban in effect?

On May 23, the Minnesota Department of Health issued new health based values on the levels of perfluorochemicals (PFCs) for Minnesota drinking water. The new lower values affected some wells in the east metro region, including Cottage Grove. As a result, I am proud that our City Council took immediate action to ensure the safety of our water.

The Department of Health contacted our city about the new values on May 22, one day before they formally issued the new regulations. In its press release, the department emphasized that there was no health emergency, and that our system would be able to meet the updated values. After being contacted by the department, our city staff immediately took the wells that would exceed the new values off-line and as a result, Cottage Grove's water never exceeded the updated health based values.

With these wells off-line and less water available, our City Council convened an emergency meeting to temporarily restrict water usage until we can get temporary carbon filtration systems installed on our affected wells. The watering ban does not affect those with private wells.

How long will the ban last?

The watering ban is estimated to be in place for four to six weeks. We are asking all of you to please hold off on sprinkling lawns, watering gardens and landscaping, washing cars, filling swimming pools, and other exterior water use. The City's Splash Pad will not open, and the fountain at the Veterans Memorial will remain off until the ban is lifted.

We are working with businesses, townhomes and apartment complexes to ensure the sprinkler systems are turned off during this ban. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, please make sure it is shut down.

For those that have new sod or trees, please contact Public Works at 651-458-2808 to get a special permit that will allow you to water.

Why is there a ban if the water is safe to drink?

The water in the City wells is safe to drink. The ban is to ensure there is enough water for everyone to use, much like in a drought situation. The City is now providing water from wells that meet the new health based values to supply municipal water while it installs temporary filtration systems over the next few weeks. As more wells are reintroduced into the system and capacity returns, we will ease watering restrictions. Our City will then work to install a permanent filtration systems to make sure that Cottage Grove residents always receive the highest-quality water available.

Where can I get more information?

I encourage you to visit the City's website, follow our Facebook page, and sign up for our Code Red Emergency Notification System. The link is on the City's website and you will then receive alerts from the City and Public Safety department. I also invite you to attend a Public Information Meeting with The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Pollution Control agency staff as well as elected officials at Cottage Grove's City Hall, located at 12800 Ravine Parkway South, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7.

Thank you for your patients and support.