Widefield aquifer: Looking for the source of PFC pollution

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

From KKTV.com (Alyssa Chin):

The Widefield Water and Sanitation District said while their PFC levels are not too far above the limit.

During a public meeting this afternoon, they suspected firefighting foam used at Peterson Air Force base years ago could be the culprit.

Perflourinated chemicals, also known as PFCs, were found in wells in Security, Widefield and Fountain.

That prompted a health advisory for pregnant women and babies, and that concern is spreading…

The Air Force started using PFC based firefighting foam in 1970 to put out fuel based fires and told us they stopped using it about 10 years ago.

A map outlines where PFC foam was used at nearby local military installations in relation to Security and Widefield.

Fort Carson told us, their one fire training site will be tested in the near future. But, added their water couldn’t have moved uphill to the affected area.

Peterson Air Force Base told us, they just tested their two fire training sites. Those preliminary results will be public in the next few months. They are scheduled to have the sites tested again in May 2017, but said, based on the results of the preliminary test, that date could be moved up.

That’s where Widefield believes their problem begins.

In May 2016, the EPA and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) lowered the allowed limit of PFCs in the water.

Widefield Water said more than 60% of their water has no traces of PFCs. And before the new guidelines, they were well below the accepted levels.

In security, the PFC levels tested much higher than Widefield’s. The water department there said it could be decades before the chemicals work their way out of the water supply.

“It made me immediately stop using everything- ice included. I don’t want another Flint happening here,” Security resident Latisha Mapu previously told us.

Widefield Water said they hope to have a plan ready to fix the problem in the next few months.

In the meantime, they said homeowners can install a reverse osmosis system or use carbon water filters in the home.

For a look at the affected areas in Security, Widefield, and Fountain click here.

For Colorado Springs Utilities customers and Pueblo Water Works customers, they told us this issue wouldn’t happen because those utilities get their water from places like Pueblo Reservoir and not well water.

From KRDO.com:

Members of the Widefield Water District held a public meeting this week, where citizens asked many questions. The most common question asked, was how people can protect themselves.

“You can get an activated carbon filter and a reverse osmosis filter,” said Brandon Bernard with Widefield Water District.

The different filter options cost anywhere from $30 to $500.

“Make sure the filters are NSF (National Science Foundation) approved, and follow all the recommended guidelines when you purchase your filter,” Bernard said.

But the idea of filters isn’t easing everyone’s mind…

Water district members say Widefield does not have a higher rate of cancer or developmental issues compared to anywhere else in Colorado.

“Widefield is going above and beyond, we’re improving our blending stations and looking into future treatment options,” said Brenard.

Meanwhile, local water companies are seeing a sudden spike in bottled water sales.

“This is by far the most interest in bottled water that we’ve seen here by far,” said Rick Baker, co-owner of Springs Mountain Water in Colorado Springs…

In just two days the business sold one month’s worth of water jugs.

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