Security files suit against Air Force over water contamination –Pueblo Chieftain

Photo via USAF Air Combat Command

From the Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

It’s been nearly three years since the U.S. Air Force acknowledged that toxic chemicals from Peterson Air Force Base contaminated groundwater under the city of Security, forcing it to stop using well water that served its 19,000 customers.

This week, Security officials and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation answered with a federal lawsuit in Denver asking for nearly $19 million in damages from ongoing contamination.

What’s causing it isn’t in doubt. A military firefighting foam that contains perfluorinated chemicals has been seeping into groundwater south of Peterson AFB since 1970 and has contaminated the underlying Widefield and Windmill Gulch aquifers.

Air Force officials confirmed the contamination in an August 2016 study, and the Security Water District stopped using its 24 groundwater wells the following month. Then, it began buying water through the Southern Delivery System pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir.

Despite the 2016 Air Force study, the lawsuit says the federal government rejected a claim for damages last year, forcing Security and the Pikes Peak foundation, a nonprofit charity, to sue for damages.

The water district has itemized $15.5 million in losses and expenses related to finding a new water supply for the community.

The foundation, which owns Venetucci Farms in El Paso County, is asking for $3.1 million in damages for losing access to water suitable for growing crops.

The lawsuit gives a detailed account of how Air Force officials used the firefighting foam at Peterson AFB since 1970. It was used mostly in training, though the Air Force also sprayed contaminated water over the base’s golf course. It was also poured into the Colorado Springs city sewers…

On Wednesday, representatives from the Defense Department testified before a House subcommittee about the extent of the problem. They said the foam’s chemicals have been found in more than 560 public and private water systems nationally.

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