The first of Fountain's two long-awaited, Air Force-supplied water filters are expected to become operational in about a month, the city's utilities director said Friday.
The construction comes as Fountain officials continue grappling with toxic chemicals in the underground waterway that have been linked to a firefighting foam used for decades at nearby Peterson Air Force Base.
The chemicals, called perflourinated compounds, have been linked to a host of health ailments, including low birth weight, liver disease and cancer. As a result, water districts in Security, Widefield and Fountain have spent millions of dollars guarding against them.
For nearly two years, Fountain has avoided the aquifer in favor of surface water pumped in from the Pueblo Reservoir. In the process, city officials have made upgrades to their system, and they have asked residents to conserve water.
The granular activated carbon filter's arrival this week signaled a significant step toward ensuring the toxic chemicals remain out of residents' drinking water, said Curtis Mitchell, the city's utilities director.
The filter was assembled and bolted to a concrete foundation Thursday, he said. It will take two weeks to connect the filter to Fountain's water system, and another two weeks to perform testing on it.
"This is really big for Fountain," Mitchell said. "This is a huge step in a very positive direction."
A second filter is expected to arrive by July 31, he said. Combined, the filters cost the Air Force more than $800,000.
Once operational, the city's water supply should grow markedly - reducing the need for watering restrictions that, to this point, have remained voluntary.
A decision on whether to make those restrictions mandatory in the meantime is expected by July 10, Mitchell said.
"We'll need to see what happens over the next week," Mitchell said.