From KRDO.com (Scott Harrison):
Four filters supplied by the Air Force will allow Fountain residents this week to resume using groundwater that was found to be contaminated by firefighting chemicals more than two years ago.
Two filters were tested [June 18, 2018] and the other two are scheduled to be in operation next month.
The test had to be stopped, however, after the filtering system produced too much pressure, ruptured some seals and sprang a leak.
“We’ll try again (Tuesday),” said Curtis Mitchell, director of Fountain Utilities. “We only have one more set of seals, so we want to make sure we figure out what caused the problem before we risk rupturing the other seals.
Since the contamination from a firefighting foam at Peterson Air Force Base was discovered in the fall of 2015, the city stopped using water from its underground aquifer and began using surface water from the Pueblo Reservoir.
The filters cost around $700,000 to reduce the amount of the three most dangerous chemicals to well below levels deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The filtering agent is a sandy, charcoal-like material that is inserted into the tanks.
But, according to research last year by the Colorado School of Mines, the same filters didn’t do well in reducing the levels of more than two dozen other chemicals.
“We know that customers will choose to use bottled water for drinking and cooking, as they have been,” Mitchell said. “But we want them to know we’ve tested the filtering system and the water is safe.”
City officials estimate that only 15 percent of the city’s water usage will come from the aquifer on peak days, and that groundwater is needed to supplement the surface water supply.
Many residents remain skeptical about the water quality, fearing that they’ve been exposed to the contamination for years.
City leaders say the water is now safe to drink, with a new process called Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) which gets rid of any PFC’s found in the water.
‘We did laboratory testing a week ago,’ said Fountain Utilities Dir. Curtis Mitchell, ‘the results came back non-detect, so now we’re comfortable that we can provide safe drinking water in addition to the surface water that we use from pueblo reservoir to our customers.’
Still, a majority of the water will come from the Pueblo Reservoir.
Additionally, the city will test the water every week for the entire lifespan of the water facility.
More facilities are on the way, but Mitchell says that’s about 2 years out.