What goes down, must come up

Ask anyone with young kids and they’ll tell you about the strain of parenting in COVID times. With schools, summer camps, and daycare closed, we dance a wiggly cha cha as we attempt to somehow do a full day’s work while simultaneously caring for stir-crazy children who’ve been stuck at home since March. 

This summer, I’m putting my creativity to the test, finding new ways to engage the public from a safe distance, dragging my son with me everywhere I go, and incorporating fun outdoor activities into my work day. 

The journey of PFAS from 3M into our local waterways began in the 1950s and 60s when the company was making Scotchguard and fire fighting foams. Manufacturing waste was dumped in landfills on Hwy 14 in Oakdale and near Lake Jane in Lake Elmo, as well as at two smaller sites in Woodbury and Cottage Grove.

Battle Creek

Over time, the chemicals leached deep into the ground and contaminated aquifers used as a source of drinking water for municipal and private wells in the area. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency first discovered the groundwater contamination in 2002 and has been continuously working with 3M, local communities, and the MN Department of Health ever since to ensure that local residents have safe drinking water. Unfortunately, the groundwater has now carried PFAS into Lake Elmo, Battle Creek and Raleigh Creek as well. To date, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to correct the problem, but there are no easy solutions.

Overlooking Pig’s Eye Lake, a backwater of the Mississippi River

Gazing out at Pig’s Eye Lake from the top of a bluff in Battle Creek Regional Park, it’s hard to believe you’re in the middle of a bustling city. The freeway and rail yard below fade to quiet and the air fills with the songs of birds and frogs again. It will take years to restore water quality in the area but in the meantime, the sun shines, the flowers bloom, the river flows, and miles of hilly trails beckon you to come out and enjoy the view.

To learn more about PFAS water contamination, go to:




To find maps of trails at Battle Creek Regional Park go to: