Testing the safety of residents’ drinking water (3/23/2018)

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By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 3/23/2018

Hello from the State Capitol,

Legislation I’m authoring that gives local residents more control over testing the safety of their drinking water was heard in the Minnesota House Environment Finance Committee Tuesday.

The bill allows people in Denmark Township, Cottage Grove, and other areas where water has been contaminated with perflurocarbons (PFC) to choose whether or not to have their wells tested for presence of the chemical.

As it stands today, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency decides who gets their well tested and when. What my bill does is give a little more control back to the residents who are concerned for the safety of their water. They should be allowed to make that request.

Specifically, the bill requires the PCA to test a private well for per- and poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs) if requested by the owner or occupier of land in the east metropolitan area (defined as the cities of Afton, Cottage Grove, Lake Elmo, Newport, Oakdale, St. Paul Park, and Woodbury, the townships of Denmark, Grey Cloud Island, and Lakeland, and other areas added by the PCA).

If the testing measures PFC contamination at or above 50 percent of the health-based advisory value or health risk limit, the PCA is required to provide additional testing. The bill would require the money for the testing to come from the remediation fund that exists due to the State’s $850 million PFC contamination settlement with 3M, not the general fund.

Under my legislation the PCA would also be required to report an annual summary of the testing results to the communities and post these results on the agency’s website, and requires the PCA to submit an annual report to the legislature as well.

The next stop for the bill in the Minnesota House has not yet been determined.

It was a good hearing with plenty of testimony from the PCA, Attorney General’s office and the Department of Health. We’re working together in a bipartisan way to address drinking water concerns in the East Metro area.

Also note that the MPCA and DNR will be having an informational meeting in Cottage Grove regarding the 3M settlement. It will be held on Tuesday, April 3 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Park High School, 8040 80th St. South. For more information, please click here.

Legislation I’m sponsoring that would rehabilitate and preserve the Hastings City Hall building is moving forward in the Minnesota House. On Tuesday I was joined by Hastings City Administrator Melanie Mesko Lee and City Planner Justin Fortney to discuss the plan before the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee.

Last year I invited the committee to visit Hastings and learn more about the city hall building, and I think that visit greatly improved our standing with those committee members. They were able to get a first-hand look at the problems within the building and they remembered the project and its needs, which I took as a very good sign.

This bill would provide $1.5 million in bonding proceeds to repair masonry, replace dome cupola roofs and decorative metal, make HVAC improvements and work on the foundation, among other needs. If approved, the City of Hastings would match the state’s investment to help preserve the nearly 150 year-old building.

The Hastings City Hall proposal was held over for possible inclusion in the Minnesota House bonding bill, which will be brought forward later this session.

Not long ago I heard from a Cottage Grove liquor store owner who contacted me about Sunday alcohol sales. He wants to start and end his day earlier, but also wants the opportunity to sell alcohol on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve – likely his two busiest days of the year – until 10:00 p.m. if those dates fall on a Sunday.

My bill that would accomplish that was heard in the Minnesota House Commerce Committee and may be included in a comprehensive commerce bill to be unveiled later this year.

Despite the fact we were dealing with committee deadlines in the Minnesota House and many late hearings this week, I was happy I could make it to Hastings Monday to attend the Highway 316 workshop being held with MnDOT and city officials. This is an important project for the city and having worked hard to keep speed limits from increasing in the southern portion of town and prioritizing safety measures there, I’m interested to see future planning from the department.

Also this week, Mike Hedstrom from BJ Transport in Afton visited to discuss issues facing the trucking industry including driver shortage, distracted driving and driver assist technology.

On Thursday, members of the Hastings City Council and city staff came to St. Paul to discuss legislation they’re prioritizing this session. Council members Joe Balsanek and Mark Vaughan were among the visitors.

Constituent Mary Nehring visited with others to discuss ways to reduce tobacco harm.

Thursday was MCCL Student Day at the Capitol and I was visited by a group of advocates, including Elisa and Brandon from Hastings.

Have a good weekend,
Tony

Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-3135
rep.tony.jurgens@house.mn

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