Indian casino was part of West Lakeland Township water system plan – Twin Cities

A lawsuit alleges that West Lakeland Township regulators approved a plan to build a new water system, not only for residents but also to help a future casino.

The Citizens Opposed to Municipal Water group claims in its Washington County lawsuit that the water system – which was recommended by the state due to pollution problems – was secretly approved by regulators to assist a potential casino to be operated by the Prairie Island Indian Community. Prairie Island operates the Red Wing Treasure Island Resort and Casino.

Plans for the water system – which has since been dropped – required service for about 742 homes or half of the city’s households. The water system – to cost $ 154 million – would be paid for through settlement money that the township received from 3M to handle perfluorochemicals found in drinking water in Washington County. While the facility was recommended by the state, it drew opposition from some residents.

“It’s almost unbelievable how much the supervisors are doing wrong,” said Charles Devine, a former Afton mayor who has been retained as an expert witness by the group.

The three township supervisors – Dan Kyllo, Dave Schultz and Marian Appelt – either chose not to comment or did not respond to requests for comment. A township attorney, Nicholas O’Connell, did not respond to a phone call Thursday.

The municipality has submitted a response to the lawsuit, which rejects all allegations, but does not explain how the decision was reached to approve the water project.

Citizens who are opposed to municipal water now reach out to residents by sending pamphlets and holding public meetings. It sued the township in September and updated the lawsuit later in the fall.

THE COURT REQUESTS THE COURT TO REMOVE THE APPLICATION

The lawsuit asks Washington County District Court to remove the supervisors from office and hold a referendum to increase the number of supervisors from three to five. It asks the court to order the municipality to pay unspecified costs and legal fees and fines paid by individual supervisors.

The $ 154 million system was recommended by government agencies in 2020 as a way to clean up polluting chemicals originally manufactured by 3M. Township’s municipal system would have been paid for by the 2018 settlement in an environmental damage case in which 3M paid $ 850 million to improve local water supplies. Of that, $ 700 million is left after legal expenses.

The money for the township with 4,200 inhabitants was a larger amount than was set aside for its neighbors, including Woodbury’s $ 70 million and Lake Elmo’s $ 66 million.

Township has no water system – all homes have private wells. The recommendation called for the construction of a water tower, two municipal wells and 41 miles of water mains. It would have required a rebuild of most of the roads because the water pipes are installed under the roads.

Give a Comment