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Colorado water district now off of contaminated well water

By JAKOB RODGERS | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) | Published: September 27, 2016

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Tribune News Service) — Security's water district has completely switched from contaminated well water to cleaner surface water pumped into the area from the Pueblo Reservoir, the agency announced Tuesday.

Security Water and Sanitation Districts' move signals the last time Security's water officials plan to use the fouled Widefield aquifer this year, and projects are underway to ensure the chemicals no longer get into residents' drinking water, the agency said in a news release.

The move comes as temperatures cool and the summer watering season comes to a close.

Water districts in Security, Widefield and Fountain have traditionally relied mostly on surface water pumped into the area from the Pueblo Reservoir. However, those water districts have routinely tapped into the Widefield aquifer during the summer months to meet demand.

That strategy became a problem in May, when the Environmental Protection Agency tightened its guidelines over perfluorinated compounds and left residents in Security, Widefield and Fountain scrambling to find other water sources.

Fountain managed to go the entire summer without dipping into the aquifer, due largely to watering restrictions.

Widefield Water and Sanitation District, however, has not announced a complete switch to cleaner surface water. The district has said it expects to wean itself from the contaminated aquifer in October.

The chemicals have been used for decades in many common household products, including nonstick pans and rain jackets. They also were used in a firefighting foam at Peterson Air Force Base, and military officials suspect the foam ultimately contaminated the Widefield aquifer underlying those communities. An investigation is ongoing.

The chemicals have been associated with a host of health ailments, including kidney and testicular cancers, thyroid disease and high cholesterol.

Two lawsuits seeking class-action status have been filed on behalf of residents in the area against the manufacturers who produced and sold the chemicals.

©2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
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An airman prepares for a fire emergency at the Peterson Air Force Base fire station in Colorado on May 21, 2016.
DENNIS HOFFMAN/U.S. AIR FORCE

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