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Fountain residents asked to begin voluntary water restrictions

May 29, 2017 Updated: May 30, 2017 at 6:01 am
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Fountain leaders expect mandatory watering restrictions to be implemented later this summer, and they want residents to voluntarily begin conserving water Thursday.

The announcement comes as Fountain continues grappling with the presence of toxic chemicals in the Widefield aquifer - a key source of water for the community.

"If we get into a couple weeks where it's hot and dry really day after day, that's where we do anticipate we'll use water restrictions again," said Curtis Mitchell, Fountain's utilities director.

Fountain last pulled from the aquifer in October 2015 - a decision that dropped the city's water capacity by about 20 percent. Since then, the city has relied more heavily on the Pueblo Reservoir and conserved water during hot summer months.

The chemicals, called perfluorinated compounds, have been used for decades in a firefighting foam at nearby Peterson Air Force Base, and for years were flushed into Colorado Springs' sewer system and Fountain Creek. They have been linked to a host of ailments, including certain cancers, low birth weight and high cholesterol.

City officials have been working with Air Force officials to install granular-activated carbon filters on at least two wellheads. But that's taken longer than expected, and multiple water district managers have lamented the Air Force's response to the crisis.

Fountain's first filter won't likely be ready for use until July, and the second not until August, Mitchell said. As a result, the city may not be able to meet water usage demands on the hottest of summer days, Mitchell said.

City officials want residents to get in the habit of conserving water soon.

On Thursday, voluntary watering restrictions begin in the city and continue through Sept. 30.

Even-numbered residences are being asked to only water outdoors on even-numbered calendar days, and vice versa for odd-numbered residences.

Along with installing Air Force-supplied filters and asking residents to conserve water, city officials are upping their use of surface water from Pueblo and working with private contractors to design separate filters for other wellheads.

Mitchell also is working with Colorado Springs Utilities to create redundancies in its water system.

Stiffer penalties will accompany any mandatory watering restrictions implemented in Fountain. Residents will receive a warning for the first violation, a $50 fine for the second and a $100 fine for the third.

Security Water and Sanitation Districts also instituted voluntary watering restrictions.

The water district's manager, Roy Heald, said he doesn't expect to use the Widefield aquifer this year, because Security is paying a premium to Colorado Springs Utilities for more water from the Pueblo Reservoir.

Even-numbered addresses are being asked to limit watering to Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Odd numbered addresses are being asked to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The district is asking no watering be done on Fridays.

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