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Air Force to give nearly $3 million to fix contaminated water flow in Pennsylvania

By JUSTINE MCDANIEL | The Philadelphia Inquirer | Published: January 3, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — The Air Force will spend nearly $3 million to permanently stop PFAS-contaminated water from flowing off a former Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, base into local waterways, officials said Friday.

The agreement to fund the fix comes after more than two years of requests from local residents and officials to address the highly contaminated water that has flowed off the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and into local creeks.

Water contamination from PFAS, a family of chemicals that have been linked to health problems, has affected millions of residents nationwide, including thousands in swaths of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Here, the chemicals ran off the former Willow Grove and Warminster naval bases, into waterways, and into drinking water supplies.

Those have since been cleaned, but contamination remains in groundwater, storm water, and other parts of the environment. Across the country, the military has responded differently at various bases and has been pressed by affected states for more funding and cleanup.

“For years, we have been deeply concerned by the ongoing contamination flowing from the Willow Grove base and into our region’s groundwater,” said U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, the Democrat representing Montgomery County who had lobbied the military to address the issue and announced the Air Force funding on Friday.

The military will partner with the Warminster Municipal Authority to build the containment and filtration system needed to capture and treat the surface water before it flows off-base.

For years, the water has been moving off the Willow Grove base and into a tributary of Park Creek, which eventually flows into Neshaminy Creek — which goes into the Horsham-area water treatment facilities.

“Today, we are a step closer to cleaning up our region’s drinking water,” Dean said.

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