Security: Town is looking for dough to manage perfluorinated chemical pollution

securitywatersanitation

From Colorado Public Radio (Anthony Cotton):

In May, the agency reduced the levels for allowable contamination by perfluorinated chemicals from 0.4 micrograms per liter to 0.07 micrograms per liter, almost 10 times less. The advisory only provides technical guidelines to states and regulation isn’t mandatory, however it has had a great impact in Security.

“The EPA lowered the standards below what we had anticipated; and then the problem was the new health advisory was so much more stringent that none of our wells would meet them,” Heald said. “Different people have different concerns. The health advisory is protecting the most sensitive members of the population — pregnant women, fetuses, infants…I’m a healthy middle-aged male so I feel my risk is low. But I understand that others rightfully have concerns.”

Well water has been most affected by the advisory; Heald said that supply is largely being replaced by surface water. However, he adds that there’s not enough at present to meet peak demand — and water usage is as much as five times greater during the summer.

Wells have been shut down and other steps, like the installation of new pipes and building filtration structures, are underway. The problem is paying for them. Heald says the cost will eventually have to be passed on to customers.

“We’ve been asking for help from anyone who will listen for some financial support but no one has offered,” he said. “There’s no party that’s been found to be responsible for the contamination, so no one’s stepped up to pay for this.”

From KKTV.com (Katie Pelton):

“All of our water meets all federal and state drinking water standards,” said Roy Heald, general manager of Security Water and Sanitation Districts. “In other words, it meets all the regulations. This is an EPA health advisory, so it doesn’t rise to the level of a regulation. It just advises us and the public to be cautious.”

Heald said if you’re concerned, you “may want to consider a different source.”

In light of the advisory, Security has closed seven of its wells. One of them tested at a level of 1,300 parts per trillion of PFCs.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulation is 70 parts per trillion.

However, Heald said residents never got that amount because the water was diluted.

Security also gets its water from surface water in the Pueblo Reservoir, which is what Heald said the community is mainly relying on for now.

However, only certain residents are affected. The area is split into three regions…

Security’s water department didn’t say when the problem would be fixed, but said it could take a long time before the chemicals are out of the system.

“We’re looking at treatment over the long term because I think over the long term it’s going to be decades or maybe even generations before these chemicals work their way through the aquifer,” said Heald.

From KOAA.com (Jessi Mitchell):

Man-made PFCs have been in the ground water for years in the communities south of Colorado Springs, but last week the EPA lowered the safe level of contamination and put them in the danger zone. Now residents are paying out of pocket for bottled water and filters for their homes, which they say is not fair.

Families in the three communities are already feeling the impact of PFCs in the water. Stories are coming out on the petition page about health problems possibly linked to the contamination. Cancer, elevated cholesterol and birth and developmental defects are among the CDC’s listed effects…

Right now residents are buying clean water to use for drinking, cooking and bathing multiple times a week, in addition to paying their water bills, and say they should not have to. Loudenber says, “You’re talking single moms. You’re talking families that are already on assistance. They can’t afford to go get bottled water every few days.”

The EPA is encouraging people with wells in those three districts to make appointments to get their water tested. The local water districts are only advising pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to avoid the tap water. They continue to investigate the source of the PFCs, but Peterson AFB confirms they used firefighting foam that contained the chemicals up until 2002.

Still, people like Loudenber want action now. “I’m not saying it’s the water district’s fault,” she says. “Obviously it came from somewhere else, but it’s here now. We need to deal with it.”

In addition to the request for free water bottles and filters for neighbors in the three communities, she hopes the water districts implement a free long-term fix for the wells there. “There are filters out there that they can put on the wells that will help with the PFCs,” Loudenber says. “They just have to be willing to do that.”

Care and Share Food Bank will hold a meeting in the coming days to asses their supply of bottled water, and see if they will be able to get more if the water districts do not take action.

When News 5 spoke with Security Water District on Monday, representatives said they had not heard about the petition and would not provide a comment. They did say the district was already mixing more surface water into the supply that does not contain PFCs.

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.
Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

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