Stage 3 water restrictions, which were put in place in Fountain June 24 after perfluorinated compounds were found in area groundwater wells, were lifted Thursday.
The restrictions, which limited irrigation to two days a week to avoid using well water and meet demands with surface water, were imposed after contamination was found in groundwater wells in Fountain, Widefield and Security at levels above Environmental Protection Agency recommendations…
Stage 1 voluntary water restrictions remain in place in Fountain until Sept. 30, according to the utilities’ website.
Under the voluntary restrictions, property owners and renters with street addresses ending in an even number are encouraged to use water outdoors on even-numbered calendared days, and vice-versa with residents with street addresses ending in an odd number. Property owners and renters area also encouraged to refrain from using water outdoors on the last day of each calendar month.
The City of Colorado Springs says it has finished building a detention and water quality basin on the city’s northeast side as part of a new commitment to stormwater projects.
The city has committed to spending $19 million a year on stormwater projects.
The new detention basin at Woodmen Road and Sand Creek cost $3 million and is designed to reduce the velocity of flows in Sand Creek and to prevent downstream erosion while creating a more natural environment.
The city says 71 projects were selected based on negotiations with Pueblo County to identify and prioritize stormwater projects that would benefit both Colorado Springs and downstream communities…
All of the projects are designed to reduce flooding, provide improved water detention, and reduce flows, sediment and other pollutants entering drainages and going downstream.
The state Department of Public Health and Environment said Wednesday it hasn’t ruled out additional sources, but officials believe at least some of the chemicals came from Peterson Air Force Base, where firefighters used the foam in training exercises.
The foam contained perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, which have been linked to prostate, kidney and testicular cancer, along with other illnesses.
The comments by state officials were the most definitive statement to date linking the contamination to Peterson. It came hours after the military released a report identifying six sites at the base where the foam may have escaped into the environment after firefighting drills or fire equipment tests…
Colorado and Air Force officials will meet next week to discuss their next steps, said Roland Clubb of the state health department. The next phase will include drilling monitoring wells and taking soil samples, which the Air Force announced last month.
Clubb said state officials also want assurances from the Air Force about seven other sites at Peterson where the foam was used, but where the military said no follow-up investigation is needed. The Air Force said any foam released at those sites went through a treatment system…
The Security Water District has shifted almost entirely to surface water — from rivers and lakes — since the PFCs were found, Manager Roy Heald said Wednesday. Previously, about half the district’s water came from wells and half from surface water.
Heald expects the district to soon use surface water entirely, after modifications to the system.
The Fountain Water Department has not used wells since October and got through this summer’s peak demand period entirely on surface water, Utilities Director Curtis Mitchell said.
Six sites at Peterson Air Force Base were singled out for follow-up tests, the report submitted by the Army Corps of Engineers found.
The firefighting foam was used most heavily from about 1970 through the early 1990s at two fire training areas, which have since been decommissioned, the report said. A former assistant fire chief, however, told investigators that he remembered it twice being used in a lined basin during the last decade.
Also at risk of exposure is the installation’s golf course, which sits on a former leach field and is watered from an untreated pond that collects all runoff from the central and western areas of the base, the report said. Investigators were not certain how much firefighting foam made its way into the pond since it was built in 1979.
The chemicals also have been used during equipment tests in two areas, including a dirt-and-grass volleyball court near one fire station and along a concrete road near another, the report said…
The EPA says the chemicals are “toxic to laboratory animals and wildlife, producing reproductive, developmental, and systemic effects in laboratory tests.”
In the new report, investigators say none of the sites on Peterson contaminated with the firefighting chemicals “identified as presenting an imminent risk to public health or the environment.”
The base has at least 600 gallons of the chemicals in storage. The military has said it’s working to find a replacement for the firefighting chemicals.
Studies of the contamination, including the drilling of test wells, are expected to continue through the fall. Another report is due in March.
This year, the military said 664 sites in the U.S. and elsewhere may have used the toxic firefighting chemicals. They were mixed with water to create a foam used to extinguish fuel fires.
DOLA had awarded the county $945,000 in Community Development Block Grant money in late 2015 for a much-needed project along Fountain Creek near U.S. Highway 85/87 south of Colorado Springs, but in June, the county got some bad news:
The award would be much smaller than expected.
Federal guidelines cap at $250,000 the money that can be given out for projects that involve the Army Corps of Engineers – which is administering the work near 85/87 and Maxwell Street.
The project, necessary after torrential floods badly damaged the banks of the creek in September 2013, would shore up a 1,000-foot section of the creek, keep the highway safe and prevent eroded river banks from approaching a mobile home park during the next large flood event.
“Now we have a fear of losing this project,” Brian Olson of the county’s budget division said Friday. “If we don’t have the funding on this, they’ll take that money and use it somewhere else.”
The total cost of the work is estimated at more than $2.5 million, according to a May 2015 project overview. The Army Corps of Engineers will pick up three quarters of that tab, and the rest was expected to come from the money awarded to El Paso County, but the cap leaves the county short.
“We’re still trying to figure how we can fill that gap,” county Commissioner Sallie Clark said.
Olson said the project is doing feasibility analysis, a study that will cost the county $180,000. If the Army decides the project isn’t worth the cost, no grant money will be available at all, Olson said. The actual cost the county must pay will be determined after the feasibility study is complete.
While the county still has at least two months before the feasibility study is complete and the Army Corps’ determination on the value of the project is made, the county has shown urgency about finding alternate sources of money. They hope to receive some assistance in solving that problem.
“The state has got a lot on their plate,” Olson said. “They made an error on this. I’m hoping they’ll help us get through this thing.”
More than one-quarter of the banks along Fountain Creek were severely damaged by last year’s continual high water that would cost $76 million to fully repair.
Mostly in Pueblo County.
That assessment was given Friday to the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District by Executive Director Larry Small…
That’s significant because it shows the prolonged flows from increased water in Fountain Creek are more destructive than the one-time spikes in volume typical of flash flooding. It also shows there was more damage than the high visibility impacts, such as the washout of Overton Road, the exposure of buried cables and utility lines, the threat to operational railroad tracks and damage to individual property owners.
The results came after an aerial survey that is part of collecting data for an upcoming needs assessment study. Both sides of Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs and Pueblo were studied, about 102 miles of river bank.
Severe damage — altering the shape of the bank or the course of the stream — was found along sections totaling 28 miles. The damaged areas are not in one place but spread throughout the 50 miles along Fountain Creek, Small explained.
Small estimated the damage at $76 million based on the average cost of restoration to stream banks at $500 per foot.
The district does not have money to make repairs on that scale. Right now, it is embarking on a $2.5 million project to repair about 1,500 feet of bank on the Masciantonio property in Pueblo County, about 10 miles north of Pueblo.
A demonstration project on the Frost property in El Paso County had been completed but washed out in the 2015 flooding because of the high volume of water over a six-week period.
Small said assessments of how to proceed will be determined with more on-the-ground inspections.
The executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District visited officials in Pueblo County on Monday and stopped by meetings of El Paso County, Colorado Springs and Fountain leadership on Tuesday.
[Larry] Small’s travels aren’t to say “Hello.” He is asking municipalities from Palmer Lake south to the Arkansas River to include money in their 2017 budgets to help his ever-growing organization.
“Our workload has gone up significantly,” Small said.
In 2013 the district had two projects. He expects at least six to be underway in 2017.
At the El Paso County commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Small brought a letter requesting almost $50,000 from the county. He asked for just more than $100,000 from Colorado Springs and almost $40,000 from Pueblo County and the city of Pueblo combined. Small said his organization will need $200,000 from local municipalities to help take care of administrative fees and grant-matching funds for upcoming projects.
“We can ask, but there is no obligation,” he said.
The Fountain Creek Watershed and Greenway District is wrapping up its seventh year since Gov. Bill Ritter signed a bill creating the legal entity in April 2009.
Small’s group is part of the Regional Resiliency Collaborative, formerly known as the Waldo Canyon Fire Regional Recovery Group. The district has played an integral role in helping acquire grant money and managing projects during the post-fire recovery and flash-flood mitigation along Fountain and Monument creeks.
The district had a budget of more than $1.1 million in 2016, up from about $786,000 the year before, Small said. He expects his 2017 budget to be “pretty close” to this year’s. Most of the district expenses are covered by matching funds and grants from organizations like the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Community Development Block Grant Program, and other state and federal sources.
Small said the district has not asked local municipalities for monetary help since 2013. He will continue his 2016 tour next week, soliciting funds from smaller towns and cities like Monument, Palmer Lake, Green Mountain Falls and Manitou Springs.