Report: Activities at Peterson AFB have impacted environment, water

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — After water issues plagued Fountain and surrounding areas for nearly two years, the Air Force is taking partial blame for the water problem in the Security, Fountain and Widefield areas.

They said chemicals they used to put out petroleum-based fires in training may have contributed to the contamination of local drinking water.

The Air Force said in an effort to remain transparent, they wanted to release the findings to the community.

Members of the public who live in the contaminated areas said the Air Force is at fault for contaminating the water and they were frustrated with the whole situation.

However, the Air Force said there are likely other contributors and it’s the evolving environmental regulations that made this an issue of concern.

On Tuesday night at an open house at Janitell Junior High School, a frustrated community was seeking answers.

“How are they going to help the community down that they have now damaged?” said Vicki Clem, a Widefield resident.

“My animals can’t drink it I don’t water my plants with it,” said DeeAnn Francis who also lived in Widefield.

This all follows a report released by the Air Force that says they used chemicals that contributed to the contamination of water used by Security, Fountain and Widefield communities.

“We have completely replaced the aqueous film forming foam also known as AFFF in our emergency response vehicles with a new synthetic foam,” said Colonel Todd Moore.

The reports had tested dozens of ground water surface water and other areas to see which areas have the harmful chemicals called PFOS (Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) and PFOAS (Perfluorooctanoic acid).

Data shows that some samples tested are more than 1,000 times the new health advisory limits given by the EPA.

“It is concerning it’s that high let’s hope they get it down,” said David Wood, a Fountain resident.

The Air Force said they have been using firefighting foam with PFOS & PFOAS for decades, but the EPA’s new limit is what has caused the change.

“It wasn’t considered a hazardous three years ago, I don’t think you can hold the Air Force reliable for that you know,” said Wood.

The EPA said these chemicals may cause cancer, liver problems and developmental problems to unborn babies.

“My father died, and I can’t say that’s because of it but he drank the water in Widefield for 20 years,” said Francis.

Many in the community say it’s not just the impact on their health that’s a concern. It’s also the impact on their wallets, because PFC’s can’t just be boiled out, according to the EPA.

The Air Force said there is still a lot of research left to do, such as how ground water flows and the concentration of the chemical released.

They couldn’t give an estimated date on when the water should be clear of these chemicals, but their current plan in place does outline further investigation plans through 2019.

People who live in the Widefield area told FOX 21 they were upset because Widefield water company didn’t show up to the open house.

“I am extremely, extremely disappointed that Widefield water didn’t even show up and face their consumers, I am extremely disappointed,” Francis said.

FOX21 did reach out to Widefield water to find out why they weren’t at the meeting and though they have not responded yet, they posted the following on their Facebook page from Friday:

“ALL customers of Widefield receive either treated surface water from Pueblo Reservoir, Well water fully treated for PFC removal, or a blend of both. No customers need to be concerned about PFC’s. All of the water we serve meets or exceeds all state and federal drinking water regulations and is either treated surface water or Well water treated to remove PFC’s.’

To see the Final Site Inspection Report of Aqueous Film Forming Foam Areas at Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County, click the links below:

Report Part 1 

Report Part 2 

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