USAF delivers new carbon filter to Fountain

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

U.S. Air Force contractors on Thursday delivered the first of two $400,000 carbon filters designed to strip away two perfluorinated chemicals contaminating city water supply wells…

“We’re a public water system making sure we meet the regulations, even the health-advisory level. Our community — this is a priority for them. We’re going to deal with this,” Fountain utilities director Curtis Mitchell said, watching as a crane lowered two 19-foot-tall filtration tanks near a public library.

“This is a huge step forward,” he said, “because it will give us access to some of our groundwater again.”

But farmer Susan Gordon and other residents of the Fountain Creek watershed still are raising questions about the human-health impact of exposure through drinking water.

Gordon for years drank contaminated water from domestic wells and recently received results from a workers comp blood test showing a PFC called PFHxS in her blood at more than 100 times normal level. Three family members and some people who work on the farm with her also had elevated perfluorinated chemicals in their blood.

While she’s healthy now, “who knows what it could mean 10 years from now?” Gordon said. “Not just me, but lots of people living in these communities have been exposed.”


Fountain shifted city supplies to surface water sources after contamination was detected last year at levels above the EPA limit of 70 parts per trillion. But nearly 80,000 people in Fountain, Security and Widefield, as well as other communities south of Colorado Springs, long have relied on groundwater as a primary source of drinking water.

Water providers in Security have shifted to surface water delivered from a reservoir west of Pueblo along the Arkansas River, and those in Widefield and Stratmoor Hills have put in water-cleaning systems…

It was unclear whether Fountain’s filters would remove PFHxS. Karl Kuching, business development for the Air Force contractor TIGG, said the filters have proved successful removing some of the PFHxS at a site in Washington state.

Removing short-chain PFCs may require more frequent changing of the carbon, which is injected into the tops of tanks in a slurry and, when exhausted, drained out the bottoms, he said. Two tanks are used. When system operators detect a contaminant “breakthrough,” one tank still filters out contaminants while carbon in the first tank is replaced…

Water restrictions last summer reduced water use so that surface water sources met most of the demand. The restrictions might be imposed again after Tuesday, Mitchell said, so untreated well water isn’t tapped.

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