(FOUNTAIN, Colo.) — On Friday morning, Feb. 3, a welcome ceremony was held for the new water treatment plant in Fountain, which will provide safe and clean water to the city.
“This is very exciting,” said Mayor of Fountain, Sharon Thompson. “Our citizens have been waiting for this for a long time to know that their water is clean and safe to drink and that they can feel comfortable using it.”
In 2016, the city groundwater was found to have unacceptable amounts of Per-and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), which were caused by the firefighting foam used at Peterson Space Force Base. The U.S. Air Force helped fund this new facility under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
“The US Air Force has been a great partner with us on this and making sure that the funding became available to help us with this project,” Thompson said.
A tour was given throughout the facility to explain how water is treated and delivered to customers.
“We use the EPA established standards for testing, and the City of Fountain actually went beyond what the EPA recommends for PFAS, and we treat the water to what is called non detect,” said the City of Fountain Utilities Director, Dan Blankenship. “And basically, the standards or the testing standards that the EPA has established those tests. When we test our water, there is no detectable evidence of PFAS in our water.”
The facility uses the existing four municipal wells located in downtown Fountain and the water is pushed through an Ion-Exchange treatment system to break down the chemical bond between the water and remove the PFAS chemicals.
“It’s absolutely safe to drink, it meets all EPA standards and when it comes to perfluorinated compounds or PFAS,” Blankenship said. “We are removing it to the non detect, so to the lowest level that technology will enable us… to remove it at this time.”
During the ceremony, Blankenship introduced the team of workers who helped work on the facility and operate it.
“I mean, we couldn’t have done it without the great team that we have. From our project manager, who is now our engineering and water resources manager, to all of our certified water operators,” Blankenship said. “And in fact, every one of eight individuals, who are up there today are certified by the state at different levels as water operators to operate not only this treatment plant but our entire distribution system.
Thompson expressed her appreciation for the team and for being able to open this facility in the city.
“Yes, that is really exciting because they’re just names on paper sometimes,” Thompson said. “But to see the pride in… them and the project they’ve completed and what they’ve learned and how they’re excited about taking it to other communities that this might happen to using us as a model is fantastic.”
At the end of the ceremony, attendees were able to fill a cup from a spout in the facility and taste-test the water.
“This water is probably the most tested water in America right now,” Thompson said. “So we are completely comfortable telling everybody it’s safe and clean to drink.”
Blankenship said he feels safe drinking this water and encourages his whole family to do so when they visit.
“I myself, I live here in Fountain and so like I said in earlier, I drink the water every day,” Blankenship said. “I have no hesitation in drinking the water. When my kids and my grandchildren come to visit me, I have no hesitation in them drinking the water and I think that that’s really, really important message to send to the ratepayers in the community.”
Congressman Doug Lamborn could not make the event but did provide a statement.
I am pleased to see the new PFAS water filtration system unveiled today in Fountain, Colorado.
I know that it has been a long journey for everyone involved.
In 2015, Fountain was forced to shut down its wells after PFAS was detected in the water supply. This treatment facility will scrub PFAS out of the water for generations and help bring two additional water wells online. This water will help southern Colorado families, businesses, and communities flourish.
I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the City of Fountain and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for prioritizing the wellness of our communities by building and implementing this water treatment facility.
I am excited to see how this change helps the city of Fountain grow and thrive.”Congressman Doug Lamborn