Attorneys in Widefield water lawsuit want state to pay for blood tests

Photo courtesy Security Water and Sanitation Districts.

Security's water district has completely switched from contaminated well water to cleaner surface water pumped in from the Pueblo Reservoir, the agency announced Tuesday.

The move by Security Water and Sanitation Districts signaled the last time that contaminated water is expected to reach residents' homes, said Roy Heald, the water district's general manager.

"We're confident now that we can maintain this, really, until we can get treatment online," Heald said.

Security's announcement comes as temperatures cool and the summer watering season comes to a close.

Water districts in Security, Widefield and Fountain have traditionally relied largely on surface water pumped into the area from the Pueblo Reservoir during winter months. However, those water districts relied much more heavily on the Widefield aquifer during the spring and summer months to meet demand.

That strategy became a problem in May when the Environmental Protection Agency tightened its guidelines over perfluorinated compounds and left residents in Security, Widefield and Fountain scrambling to find other water sources.

Fountain managed to go the entire summer without dipping into the aquifer, due largely to watering restrictions.

Widefield Water and Sanitation District, however, does not expect to completely wean itself from the contaminated aquifer until "sometime in October," according to Brandon Bernard, Widefield's water department manager.

In Security, multiple projects are underway to ensure the chemicals no longer get into the drinking water, Heald said.

This year, the district purchased extra surface water from Colorado Springs Utilities to limit its well water use.

And this winter, Security plans to install a second line connecting it to the Southern Delivery System - a move that should significantly boost its capacity for bringing in cleaner water from the Pueblo Reservoir.

Both moves are meant to keep the district from using well water until it can be filtered. The Air Force has promised to provide nearly $4.3 million in water filters to affected water systems and well owners, though Security may not get any filters until next year.

The chemicals have been used for decades in many common household products, including nonstick pans and rain jackets. They also were used in a firefighting foam at Peterson Air Force Base, and military officials suspect the foam ultimately contaminated the Widefield aquifer underlying those communities. An investigation is ongoing.

The chemicals have been associated with a host of health ailments, including kidney and testicular cancers, thyroid disease and high cholesterol.

Two lawsuits seeking class-action status have been filed on behalf of residents in the area against the manufacturers who produced and sold the chemicals.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter: @jakobrodgers

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