Monument is planning to install a new water treatment system in the coming months that will remove radium from one of its wells allowing it to start serving the town again.
The town expects to spend about $1.5 million on the new water treatment system, an associated building and lab space. The work will expand an existing facility at Second Street and Beacon Lite Road, said Tom Tharnish, Monument's public works director.
Extended exposure to radium, a naturally occurring element and common along the Front Range, can cause cancer and other health problems over time, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The problem was discovered in the city's 9th well about four years ago and no unsafe levels of radium ever reached residents' taps. Monument's engineers designed a system that diluted the radium to safe levels, but that proved to be only a temporary fix. The well was shut down late last year while the town worked on a more permanent solution, Tharnish said.
The new filtration system will employ a resin that will filter out the radium at the end of the water treatment process, he said.
"We expect to have pretty dramatic results. This is a huge investment in technology for us," he said.
The new technology will also come with ongoing maintenance costs. The resin will need to be replaced every year to 18 months and will require between $18,000 to $20,000, Tharnish said.
Radium pollution can come and go, but this well has been consistently above the state's limit for radium for about four years, Tharnish said. The consistency of the problem helped convince the town to invest in a longer term solution, Mayor Don Wilson said.
"It’s a good kind of permanent solution. Even if the problem doesn’t persist, we’ll still have this in place if it ever comes back," Wilson said.
Monument contracted with J.R. Filanc Construction Company to demolish part of the existing water treatment facility and rebuild the facility that will house the water treatment equipment and lab, said Justin Whittaker, general manager for the Rocky Mountain Region. He expects the work will be done in February.
The water will be tested to ensure the new filtration system is working correctly and it meets the state standards, he said.
Monument's board of trustees approved drilling a 10th well in November to help offset the loss of water from the well that had to be shut off because of radium pollution. The work was expected to cost $624,975. The new well is expected to be in production next week, Tharnish said.
The community is also seeking additional water rights, so that it doesn't need to rely as heavily on its groundwater, Wilson said.