Fountain Creek: Lower Ark and other agencies wonder if the @EPA will stay the course on lawsuit v. #ColoradoSprings

The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile watershed that drains south into the Arkansas River at Pueblo. The watershed is bordered by the Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Map via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

…in November 2016, the EPA and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment sued, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act and the city’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit to discharge into creeks, streams and rivers. As a federal judge looks to set a trial date this summer, the state and lawsuit intervenors, Pueblo County and the Rocky Ford-based Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, urge the EPA in a March 26 letter to “re-commit” to the case, suggesting a dismissal or settlement might be in the works.

That would be a mistake, says Lower Ark executive director Jay Winner, because the city has broken promises in the past involving stormwater. “I started this in 2005 and we’ve had three or four deals, and something always goes south,” he says. “We’ve got to make sure we have good clean water, not just for now but for the future.”

The city’s struggle to fund stormwater dates to two failed ballot measures in 2001, and City Council’s adoption of fees in 2007 only to rescind them in 2009. In April 2016, the matter became a sticking point as the city prepared to activate the Southern Delivery System, a $825 million, 50-mile water pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir. Having issued a construction permit for it, Pueblo County demanded the city fix its storm system to relieve Fountain Creek flooding, or face revocation. In response, Mayor John Suthers and Council pledged $460 million over 20 years for city drainage work.

In November 2017, Suthers and Council proposed shifting that cost from the city’s general fund to fees. Voters approved, and the city begins collections in July. (See sidebar.)

By all indications, the city is working to comply with its MS4 permit. Its March 30 annual report for 2017 says the city:

  • Increased the number of drainage structures it maintained, from 53 in 2016 to 70, and for the first time, city workers walked every foot of the city’s 270 miles of creeks and channels to assess needs.
  • Boosted by 56 percent its reviews of drainage reports and construction and grading plans — to 1,590 last year. The city also rolled out new grading, erosion and sediment control permitting programs.
  • Launched Stormwater University, which instructs developers, engineers and consultants, as well as citizens, on MS4 mandates.
  • More than doubled the number of cleanup events along city waterways in 2017, to 88 from 37 in 2016, increasing public participation by 54 percent, to 6,014 people. Those volunteers removed 18 tons of trash. “We now have the capacity and people in place to run the programs,” says Jerry Cordova, who oversees the volunteer “trash mob” events, “so we can develop them and continue to grow.”
  • Beefed up development inspections, a key EPA lawsuit criticism. While no monetary penalties were imposed, the city stepped up enforcement, issuing 47 compliance actions last year compared to only 16 in 2016.
  • Inspections are more robust, says stormwater manager Rich Mulledy, because the city has more inspectors focused on drainage issues alone. “If you do a lot more inspections,” he says, “you’re going to catch more.” And the city did. It issued six stop-work orders last year, compared to only two in 2016, and 41 letters of noncompliance, the step that precedes a stop-work order — triple the 14 issued in 2016.

    Pockets of noncompliance, such as Wolf Ranch in the northeast, which gave rise to 23 percent of last year’s enforcement actions, stem from multiple adjacent job sites, Mulledy says. “We have a lot of different home builders and different contractors, and they’re all trying to play in the same sandbox, and they step on each other’s toes. You might have 100 pieces of equipment being used by 20 to 30 different companies.”

    Mulledy also warns against thinking that no monetary fines means no penalties. “Stop-work — that’s a very serious thing. That is a big deal,” he says. “They can’t work till it’s fixed.” Which is why stop-work orders span only a day or so, he says.

    The industry is aware of the heightened scrutiny, says Kevin Walker, spokesperson for the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs. That’s why the HBA instituted “Wet Wednesdays,” a series of tutorials about drainage rules for builders and developers.

    But it’s worth noting that builders applaud the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back clean-water and stormwater-runoff regulations. The HBA even funded EPA director Scott Pruitt’s “luxury hotel stay” at The Broadmoor in October 2017, according to Politico, which quoted HBA CEO Renee Zentz as saying it was “our chance to make sure the concerns of our industry are being listened to.”

    It’s not publicly known if the EPA’s lawsuit was discussed during Pruitt’s visit, but there’s been no filing that hints a negotiated settlement is imminent. Still, the March 26 letter from the state, Pueblo County and the Lower Ark says they “are now seriously concerned about whether the EPA continues to share our commitment to working together to protect Fountain Creek…”

    The CDPHE tells the Indy in an email the letter’s intent was to “reiterate the importance … of remedying the ongoing discharge of pollutants” into the Arkansas River watershed.

    But Lower Ark’s Jay Winner is more pointed: “I think there is a genuine distrust that the EPA may try to cut a deal,” he says. “We’re hoping that doesn’t happen. We’ve got to live with Fountain Creek for a very, very long time. Colorado Springs is doing a great job. Mayor Suthers is doing a great job. But we had a mayor before him [Steve Bach] that wasn’t doing a good job, and I don’t know if the mayor after John Suthers is going to do a good job.”

    More coverage of the Colorado Springs stormwater enterprise from Pam Zubeck writing for the Colorado Springs Independent:

    Starting July 2, billings for the city’s Stormwater Enterprise will be mailed to all Colorado Springs residents and property owners.

    The charges were authorized by voters last November under a 20-year plan that would raise roughly $20 million a year. The fee revenue will free up general fund money Mayor John Suthers and City Council had previously committed to its 20-year, $460-million deal with Pueblo County for projects to reduce erosion and flooding along Fountain Creek and other waterways. That general fund money, in turn, will be used for other purposes, such as hiring more cops.

    Since the November vote, the city has been working to set up billing procedures. Residential billings, including those for apartment dwellers, will be made by Colorado Springs Utilities, with one exception. Multi-family buildings that don’t have individual apartment water meters will be handled under nonresidential rates.

    City CFO Charae McDaniel says water service connections will trigger the stormwater fee for residential properties. Residential fee payers who don’t pay the $5 charge on their utility bills will be subject to disconnect under standard Utilities policies, which require payment within 14 days of the billing date. Utilities spokesman Steve Berry wouldn’t say how long Utilities provides service for overdue accounts, but it assesses a $20 fee for disconnection. Reconnection costs $30 during normal business hours and $40 after hours.

    If a residential customer refuses to pay the $5 fee, it rolls onto the next bill. If left unpaid for a period of time, accumulated fees could exceed the usage billings for water, sewer, electric and gas.

    “That couldn’t continue in perpetuity,” Berry says. “They [customers] will then eventually go into arrears, and they would be eligible for disconnection. There’s a point it becomes untenable for the customer, and they would be held responsible, just as in nonpayment of any service we offer.” But, Berry notes, Utilities gives customers “plenty of opportunity” to pay bills prior to disconnection.

    Nonresidential property owners of developed tracts up to 5 acres will be billed $30 per acre per month; if the land isn’t developed at all, no fee will be assessed. Owners of properties larger than 5 acres will be assessed $30 per acre per month on only those portions that are developed. Portions of those properties that remain in a natural state won’t be assessed a fee. Undeveloped land won’t pay any fee.

    There are currently 1,005 parcels that are over 5 acres that will be charged a fee, city spokesperson Jamie Fabos says. McDaniel says when properties are developed, based on monthly reports from the El Paso County Assessor’s Office, they’ll be added to the stormwater fee rolls.

    But Assessor Steve Schleiker says he changes a tract’s status only once a year, on Jan. 1, for tax purposes, and doesn’t generate a monthly report regarding development status; rather, those reports merely describe changes to property ownership.

    Asked about that, Fabos says, “Although we will be receiving monthly updates from the assessor’s office that show current ownership, acreage, and use, each property will be determined as developed or undeveloped by aerial investigation and through additional GIS technologies.” She adds that updates to parcel status will be made every six months — meaning new, nonresidential construction might not be assessed the fees until six months after they’re built.

    Nonresidential customers — which includes businesses, industry, churches, nonprofits and governments, including the city — won’t face disconnection of utility bills, because the city, not Utilities, will collect the fees. Nor will they be assessed late fees.

    “We will be going through collection processes if they become delinquent on the nonresidential side,” McDaniel says, meaning a collection agency could be used. If the fees become 150 days past due, she says, “We will process a lien on the property and record that with El Paso County to be added to property taxes.” That procedure carries a cost of 10 percent of the bill.

    Last fall, City Council President Richard Skorman said nonresidential billing information should be made public. Now, McDaniel says the City Attorney’s Office has said stormwater fees fall under the Colorado Open Records Act’s exemption for utility bills, so they’ll be kept confidential.

    That means citizens, or the media, can’t check how much various tracts are being assessed in stormwater fees.

    “It’s an issue I’d like to bring up,” Skorman says, “because I did make that promise, and I didn’t check with lawyers at the time, and I said, of course we would reveal it.”

    One possible alternative, he says, would be for Council to direct an appointed stormwater fee advisory committee to analyze and monitor fees assessed to assure they’re applied fairly. “That’s something that we definitely want to put in place,” he says.

    Moving forward, the fees can be raised by Council action, but only to satisfy a court order, comply with federal or state laws or permits, or fund the agreement with Pueblo County.

    Air Force working toward innovative groundwater cleanup solution

    The team responsible for the development of the enhanced contact electrical discharge plasma reactor, a novel method for degrading poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Professors Selma Mededovic Thagard and Thomas Holsen with Nicholas Multari and Chase Nau-Hix (shaved head), pose in the CAMP lab, October 6, 2017.

    From Schriever Air Force Base (Shannon Carabajal):

    The Air Force is working closely with leading academic researchers to solve a global challenge: cleaning groundwater contaminated with Perfluorooctane Sulfonate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid, known as PFOS and PFOA.

    The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Broad Agency Announcement program began the charge toward finding better, faster and more sustainable solutions for cleaning groundwater contaminated with PFOS and PFOA in 2011. Since then, AFCEC has awarded more than $7 million in contracts for innovative technologies to better understand and remediate the two chemicals, said Monique Nixon, AFCEC BAA coordinator.

    PFOS and PFOA are two manmade chemicals found in many products around the world, including firefighting foam formerly used by the military and commercial airports to combat petroleum-based fires. The chemicals were also used widely in many water and stain-resistant products including nonstick cookware, stain-resistant fabric and carpet, and food packaging.

    “Most people have been exposed to (PFOS and PFOA),” according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and researchers are beginning to study long-term health effects. The EPA issued a provisional short-term health advisory for the chemicals in 2009, followed by a drinking water health advisory in 2016.

    Though EPA health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory, AFCEC is aggressively identifying, responding to and preventing future drinking water contamination at Air Force bases around the country. As regulations and standards evolve, the team’s goals may eventually expand to include groundwater cleanup, a much bigger endeavor requiring a different approach.

    Currently, the Air Force primarily uses granular activated carbon filters to clean drinking water contaminated with the chemicals. Though the filters are very effective, there are drawbacks, said Cornell Long, team lead for AFCEC’s PFOS and PFOA response team.

    “Carbon filtration systems transfer (the compounds) from one medium – the water — to another — the carbon filter — so there is still the challenge of managing and disposing of the filter media. One of the Air Force’s goals is to find a technology that destroys PFOS and PFOA to the basic elements or at least to safe, simple compounds,” Long said.

    The BAA program seeks to identify that technology. Ongoing work includes a project by the Colorado School of Mines focused on using a high-pressure membrane filtration system in combination with a photochemical process designed to destroy the chemicals.

    Another project showing promise is new technology developed by researchers at Clarkson University which cleans contaminated water using an electrical discharge plasma. The process requires no chemical additions, produces no waste, and destroys and breaks PFOS and PFOA down into less toxic products that either remain in the water, or are released into the atmosphere as harmless gases, according to Selma Mededovic Thagard, an associate professor with Clarkson University’s Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering.

    “Our system is ready to be scaled up; it’s nearly finished and it’s one of the most effective and efficient technologies available today for the treatment of PFOS and PFOA,” she said, adding that there’s still some work to be done before the technology can be introduced to the public.

    As projects continue advancing, the Air Force moves closer to identifying a permanent solution and the resulting technology could benefit many communities and organizations.

    When projects yield promising results, results are shared through presentations, trainings, manuscripts and websites. Additionally, through technology transfer efforts, program managers learn about the tools available and how they can be implemented.

    The BAA program funds research into sustainable environmental solutions. The competition is full and open, with no restrictions on the type or size of firms eligible for award. For more information, visit http://www.afcec.af.mil/Home/Environment/Technical-Support-Division/Environmental-Restoration-Technical-Support-Branch/BAA/.

    #Colorado Water Quality Control Division sets PFOA and PFOS standards

    Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

    From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

    The Water Quality Control Commission imposed standards for PFOS and PFOA, two types of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), the contaminants found in ground water as a result of Peterson Air Force Base using firefighting foam for years. The chemicals leached into the underground water supply, befouling wells and wreaking havoc on supplies in the Fountain Valley.

    The standard adopted by the commission is 70 parts per trillion for PFOS and PFOA, which was proposed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Water Management Division.

    “This will give regulators the authority they need to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up to that level,” the coalition said in a release. “It will also give them a much needed tool to better monitor discharge into the aquifer and prevent further … contamination of our drinking water.”

    The coalition also noted that it argued successfully against Colorado Springs Utilities’ bid to exclude its solids handling facility from the protected site. Biosolids have been identified as a possible source of PFOS contamination and Utilities’ facility lies within the alluvial aquifer targeted for protection.

    CDPHE seeks volunteers who were exposed to Widefield aquifer pollution

    Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

    From KOAA.com (Jessica Barreto):

    Investigators with the Colorado School of Public Health and the Colorado School of Mines are looking for volunteers who were exposed to tainted water in the Fountain, Security and Widefield area back in 2015…

    “The compounds are persistent so they are still in people’s bodies, likely if they were exposed,” said Dr. John Adgate, principal investigator at the Colorado School of Public Health.

    In order to know for sure, for their sake and the sake of those affected, researchers will need to look at blood samples.

    “It’s important for individuals because they’ll get to know what their body burden is, what their levels are,” Dr. Adgate added.

    Investigators will use those blood samples to see whether immune function, liver function and cholesterol levels changed because of the previous exposure to those chemicals.

    These blood samples, along with samples from private wells in Fountain and Security, will also help researchers figure out how long the contamination was occurring prior to 2015.

    Liz Rosenbaum, founder of the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition, says it’s important the community learn more about these possible health effects.

    “We need to be aware of what we’ve been exposed to, potential health effects later on in our lives so we can deal with it so it’s not a surprise,” she said.

    A $275,000 grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is helping fund the study.

    Right now, researchers need more than 200 volunteers to sign up and they plan to follow up with 50 volunteers again the following year so see how these compounds are changing over time…

    Volunteers will also have to fill out a questionnaire and they’ll receive a gift card for participating.

    In order to qualify for this study you must meet the following criteria:

  • be 18 years old or older
  • live within the affected area for at least 3 years
  • be a non-smoker (tobacco and marijuana within the past 12 months)
  • cannot be pregnant
  • cannot have certain serious chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes or lupus
  • You can find out out how sign up for the study here.

    Prowers County Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Hixson Farms

    From The Prowers Journal (Betty Civis):

    The Prowers County Conservation District held their annual meeting Wednesday, March 7th at the Elks Lodge in Lamar.

    Conservation Poster winners were announced and the posters were on display. The theme this year was “The Soil is Alive”.

    The Prowers County Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Hixson Farms for their work in controlling land erosion from winds. The award was presented by Steve Shelton and he commented on the fact that all the conservation work that was done by the Hixsons was without government money.

    Michael Weber, Staff Engineer, for Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, briefly talked about Fountain Creek and solutions for controlling flooding and the impact on the Arkansas River. He also explained the different accounts that have water stored in John Martin Dam and an additional account that is for future expansion. His third topic involved possible improvements to Adobe Creek including increased water retention.

    Water quality in the Arkansas River Basin from John Martin to the State Line was covered in a presentation by Blake Osborn, Water Resource Specialist from Colorado State University. The higher than average levels of Selenium, Uranium, Sulfates, Arsenic and Salt in the Arkansas River Basin are causing concern. Some of the concentration in the water occurs naturally from the underlying rock and soil and some is from the run-off of irrigation and rain water. Blake Osborn, Water Resource Specialist from Colorado State University is preparing a study and ideas to alleviate some of the problem.

    Fountain Creek: CSU-Pueblo scores additional $32,000 for water quality study

    The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile watershed that drains south into the Arkansas River at Pueblo. The watershed is bordered by the Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Map via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

    From KRDO.com (Katie Spencer):

    But now, with an additional $32,000 in research funding from the county, researchers are hoping to find out exactly what lurks below the water’s surface.

    CSU-Pueblo staff and students have been collecting water samples, and they say there are large amounts of mercury and selenium in the water.

    “Mercury can be a problem. It has a whole syndrome, a whole set of symptoms if you see mercury levels getting too high,” [Scott] Herrmann said.

    County Commissioner Terry Hart said he just wants the Pueblo community to be able to enjoy the creek, as the people of Colorado Springs do.

    “Citizens are invited down to play in and around the creek and it’s a beautiful thing. We can’t do that in Pueblo County and we have not been able to do it because of our pollution concerns,” Hart said.

    He also wants to make sure the Pueblo commissioners and the city of Colorado Springs are keeping up their promises to clean up the creek.

    The researchers are also looking at the fish in Fountain Creek to determine what issues they are facing and if contaminants are being passed on to people who catch and eat them.

    Widefield aquifer: ColoradoSPH and @coschoolofmines score grant to study health effects of aqueous film-forming foams

    Photo via USAF Air Combat Command

    Here’s the release from the Colorado School of Public Health:

    ​Researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Colorado School of Mines received a two-year grant to investigate contamination of the drinking water in the towns of Fountain, Security, and Widefield, Colorado. Residents of these towns were exposed to drinking water contaminated with pollutants originating from aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF) used in firefighting and training activities.

    By measuring biological markers of exposure and health indicators in a sample of approximately 200 people who consumed contaminated water, this study will provide communities and scientists with an improved understanding of the biopersistence and potential health impacts of AFFF-derived poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). PFASs are a class of chemicals widely used in industrial and commercial applications since the 1950s.

    In July, a nine-month U.S. Air Force study verified that firefighting foam used at Peterson Air Force Base contaminated ground water and soil with PFASs at levels more than 1,000 times an Environmental Protection Agency health advisory limit for similar chemicals.

    The grant is from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a program of the National Institutes of Health. This study is being funded because of the recent discovery of the source of contamination, which has impacted the water supplies of these communities for several years.

    “This research will contribute to our understanding of the factors driving this unique exposure and how it may affect long-term health,” said Dr. John Adgate, chair of ColoradoSPH’s Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and principal investigator of the study. “We will collect the first systematic data on blood levels of these persistent compounds in this PFAS-impacted community. While exposure to PFASs has been significantly reduced due to work by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the local water utilities, our hope is that by gathering data on blood levels shortly after people’s peak exposure we can provide better answers on related health effects and potential next steps.”

    Currently, little is known about the health effects of human exposure to PFASs in areas with drinking water contaminated by AFFF, and no systematic biomonitoring has been done in these communities.

    “Because we suspect that any health effects are likely related to peak blood levels, it is important to collect the blood data and health effect information as soon as we can,” Dr. Adgate said.

    Dr. Christopher Higgins, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Mines and a co-investigator for the study, will be applying advanced analytical techniques to examine the potential that a much broader suite of PFASs is present in the impacted water supplies and possibly in people’s blood.

    “By using high resolution mass spectrometry to look at both water samples and a subset of human serum samples, we hope to improve our understanding of exactly which compounds bioaccumulate in humans and how long they stick around in the human body,” Higgins said. “We will also explore the links between drinking water exposure, PFAS blood levels, and the potentially related health effects.”

    Interventions to the water system like carbon filtration and alternative water supplies recommended by state and county health departments began in early 2016 soon after discovery of the contamination. As a result, exposures to these chemicals have been significantly curtailed. One of the research team’s challenges will be to work with the water utilities and health agencies to attempt to sample water from wells representative of what people were drinking before these interventions started. The study team hopes the additional water data will be useful to CDPHE and the water utilities that have been impacted by this contamination.

    The study will also include Anne Starling, PhD​​, assistant professor of epidemiology at ColoradoSPH and Katerina Kechris, PhD​, associate professor of biostatistics and informatics​ at ColoradoSPH.

    The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile watershed that drains south into the Arkansas River at Pueblo. The watershed is bordered by the Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Map via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

    From the Associated Press (Dan Elliot) via The Denver Post:

    The University of Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines said the two-year study aims to determine how much of the chemicals residents absorbed, how quickly their bodies are shedding the contaminants and what the current levels are in the water.

    The chemicals are called perfluorinated compounds or PFCs. They have been linked to prostate, kidney and testicular cancer, along with other illnesses.

    Firefighting foam containing PFCs has been used at military installations nationwide. PFCs have also been used in non-stick cookware coatings and other applications.

    The Air Force announced in 2016 it would switch to some another type of foam believed to be safer.

    PFCs were found in well water in three utility systems serving about 69,000 people in the city of Fountain and an unincorporated community called Security-Widefield south of Colorado Springs. Levels exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limits.

    The utilities have switched to other water sources.

    The Air Force determined the chemicals came from firefighting foam used at nearby Peterson Air Force Base.

    The new study is designed to look at large-scale impacts of the chemicals, but individual subjects will at least learn what their contamination levels are and can talk to their health care providers about it, said John Adgate, the principal investigator…

    Although the study is planned for just two years, with sufficient funding it could be turned into longer-term project, he said.

    “There are no strong studies on the long-term health effects of these compounds,” Adgate said.

    The Colorado study is funded by an initial grant of about $247,000 from the National Institutes of Health.

    Petersen Air Force Basin Colorado Springs, Colorado. Photo credit: MilitaryBases.com.

    From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Tom Roeder):

    Approval for the study of residents in Fountain, Security and Widefield was announced Thursday by the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the Colorado School of Mines. It will examine how perfluorinated compounds, a class of chemicals contained in the foam, have impacted the health of a small group of residents…

    Water providers have added filters and have switched to untainted sources since the contamination was revealed, but perfluorinated compounds are known to stay in the human body for decades after they’re consumed…

    The $275,000 local study comes after Congress approved a wider national effort as part of a military policy bill this month. The national study will help federal officials understand contamination reported near military bases around the nation that used the firefighting foam. Used to fight fuel fires, the chemical-laden foam was finally removed from Peterson Air Force base last year.

    The Air Force had been studying its toxic qualities since the Carter administration.

    Studies by the Air Force as far back as 1979 demonstrated the chemicals were harmful to laboratory animals, causing liver damage, cellular damage and low birth weight of offspring.

    The Army Corps of Engineers, considered the military’s leading environmental agency, told Fort Carson to stop using the foam in 1991 and in 1997 told soldiers to treat it as a hazardous material, calling it “harmful to the environment.”

    In 2000, the EPA called for a phaseout of the chemicals and later declared they were “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

    The Air Force plans more groundwater studies at Peterson Air Force Base next year as the Colorado Department of Health and Environment considers setting a groundwater limit for the chemical in the Widefield aquifer. The limit would be 70 parts per trillion – that’s a shot glass of the chemical in 107 million gallons of water.

    From KOAA.com:

    “What’s unknown here is what are the long term health consequences of exposure to these compounds and this study will begin to look at that,” Dr. John Adgate, principal investigator of the study at the Colorado School of Public Health said.

    After drinking water was tainted in the Security, Widefield and Fountain areas a year and a half ago which reports link to Peterson Air Force Base firefighting foam, many wondered if this could make them sick.

    “The things that we’re going to look at are some live enzyme tests and also some markers of immune function,” Dr. Adgate said…

    On Thursday, his research team announced they got the green light on funding for the two-year study.

    “I’m happy, I’m excited that we get to do the work, I know people are concerned,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to do something that’s important for public health in the state of Colorado and these folks in particular in Fountain, Security and Widefield.”

    He’s hoping to find out how persistent these compounds are in a group of 200 volunteers, all people from across the three affected areas.

    “Measure both their blood levels and collect some household water and look at the relationship between that and where they live, how long they’ve lived there and some markers of health effects,” he said.

    And regardless of the outcome of the study, he says the first order of business is making sure people are no longer being exposed.

    “Trying to offer them what we can in terms of interventions that assure that and answer other questions for example, can we grow vegetables with this?” he said.

    Researchers will start looking for that pool of 200 volunteers in the first half of 2018, focusing on long-term residents.

    They’re expecting to hold more public meetings to hear from the community before they move forward with signing up volunteers.</blockquote

    Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.