Widefield aquifer pollution mitigation update

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Tom Roeder and Jakob Rodgers):

In a first-of-its-kind admission for the service, Air Force investigators confirmed that toxic firefighting foam chemicals used at Peterson Air Force Base had leached into the surrounding groundwater. To fix the problem, Air Force officials are proceeding under a process similar to the federal Superfund program – a yearslong procedure for cleaning up complex environmental contamination. No Superfund designation, however, has been made.

The findings were outlined in a report unveiled [July 25, 2017] that examined dozens of soil and water tests over the last year at the east Colorado Springs base.

Over and over, investigators for the report issued the same warning: “There is the potential for a complete groundwater pathway for human receptors.”

At a news conference later Tuesday, Air Force Col. Todd Moore gave no apology but framed the report as an attempt to be transparent about what had transpired in decades of training with the foam. He vowed to cooperate with the community in finding a solution.

“There’s still more to learn,” Moore said.

A final determination about what needs to be done probably won’t come until the completion of another study, which won’t begin until 2019 and still needs congressional approval for funding, said Cornell Long, of the Air Force Civil Engineering Center in San Antonio.

Federal remediation work will push into the next decade, he added, though some help may arrive before then.

“There could be points where you take interim measures,” he said.

Several local elected and water officials expressed disappointment Tuesday at the prospect of a years-long wait for help.

Fountain Mayor Gabriel Ortega left a closed-door briefing with Air Force and other local officials “frustrated” that Peterson’s latest investigation didn’t appear to be all-encompassing.

He said Air Force officials gave him no clear indication of when they would send the $4.3 million in aid promised last year. Nor did they say whether the service would offer more financial aid to communities burdened with the tainted water, he added.

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