Groundwater Treatment Update

Groundwater Treatment Update
Posted on 03/01/2019
March 1, 2019

In June 2018, the City of Fountain began operating the Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filters provided by the United States Air Force to remove the Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from our well water. The filters operated from June through November 2018, accompanied by frequent lab tests which indicated non-detectable levels of PFAS (less than 2 parts per trillion). Due to the this frequent testing, while we were always able to achieve non-detectable levels, we observed the treatment units were beginning to lose their effectiveness and began making preparations to replace the filter media. 

The City of Fountain Water Utility contracted with Calgon Carbon Corporation to begin the rigorous process of removing the spent GAC, which took place this past December. Upon the replacement, tests again indicated that the filters were successfully removing PFAS to non-detectable levels. We are pleased to continue providing safe, treated, drinking water to our customers. 

Assistance for Our Community
Negotiations for the extension of our existing Environmental Services Agreement with the Air Force have concluded and are pending final signature.  The extension of this agreement will allow for continued reimbursement of operational expenses, such as labor, filter medial replacement, supplemental water supplies, and certified laboratory test.  This is vital for our community because it means our rate-payers will not bear the full expense of our groundwater treatment.  

We also continue to collaborate with our federal congressional delegation on legislation that will allow for the United States Air Force to reimburse the City of Fountain for approximately $1 Million of expenses that were initially incurred as a result of addressing our groundwater contamination. We will continue to pursue this effort and hold out hope that this legislation will gain momentum and pass in order to help our community. 

Environmental Protection Agency Involvement
Recently, we hosted the EPA at Fountain's City Hall for the announcement of their PFAS National Action Plan. EPA Region 8 Administrator, Doug Benevento, provided insight to the future direction of regulating these contaminants.  A Week later, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ASTDR) identified El Paso County as one of eight communities across the nation that will take part in an assessment to examine human exposure to PFAS.  These assessments are expected to begin this year and last through 2020.  Information gathered as a result of these assessments will serve as the basis of future studies evaluating the impacts of PFAS on human health. 

We appreciate that the EPA has made strides to have more presence in our community and address the individual concerns of our customers and other community groups, such as the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition.  Though we recognize the benefits our partnership have yielded with the EPA and Air Force, our most important partnership has been, and always will be, with our customers. 

Water Treatment Plant
Our long-term solution, a comprehensive groundwater treatment plant, is nearing the end of design.  Construction of the plant will be overseen by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and is expected to begin within the next few months at the northwest corner of Aga Park. 

Curtis Mitchell, P.E.
Utilities Director
City of Fountain