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Agreements outline Air Force commitment to Colorado communities

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Air Force recently signed agreements with Fountain, Security and Widefield, Colorado, outlining cooperative efforts for ensuring safe drinking water for the communities.
  

“As a long-time member of the Front Range, we place an extremely high value on all of our community partnerships, and are pleased we can move forward with these support agreements,” said Col. Eric Dorminey, 21st Space Wing and Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, vice commander. 

"We will continue to work closely with the leadership of our local communities and ensure Peterson is doing what we can for those in the affected area,” said Dorminey, “working with the Fountain mayor, the city council, and leadership of El Paso County remains a top priority for us."

“The City of Fountain appreciates the partnership and cooperation we have shared with the Air Force on this important matter to our community.  Both myself and the Fountain City Council remain committed to working closely with the Air Force to ensure any citizens affected by water contamination due to Air Force use of PFOS/PFOA will continue to have access to clean, safe drinking water,” added Mayor Gabriel Ortega, the Mayor of Fountain, Colorado.

The agreements -- three Environmental Service Agreements and two memorandums of understanding – explain how the Air Force will work with the communities in response to drinking water contamination stemming from military activities on Peterson AFB:

  • Under a memorandum of agreement with Fountain, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) will ensure drinking water treatment systems the AFCEC previously procured for Fountain are operational and effective. The Air Force will also investigate ways to procure alternate water supplies until the systems are operating effectively and will analyze other mitigation and treatment measures. In turn, the city pledges to cooperate with AFCEC and, where possible and appropriate, facilitate completion of the center’s efforts.
  • An environmental service agreement with Fountain obtains city services to purchase and distribute alternate drinking water, as well as operate, maintain, and monitor the performance of the treatment systems AFCEC provided to make sure the units eliminate or reduce PFOS and PFOA in drinking water production wells. The Air Force agrees to pay the city for its cost to purchase up to 235.89 million gallons of drinking water for a potential total cost of more than $211,745 over the next year. The Air Force will also pay the city up to $173,314 to operate and monitor the treatment systems. 
  • An ESA with the Widefield Water and Sanitation District obtains the city’s services to operate, maintain and monitor the performance of two drinking water treatment systems, ensuring the units eliminate or reduce PFOS and PFOS levels in the city’s drinking water production wells.  The Air Force agrees to repay Widefield for costs it incurs in accordance with the agreement over the next year, up to $606,340 to operate and monitor the treatment systems.
  • Under a memorandum of understanding with the Security Water District Water Activity Enterprise, AFCEC will complete efforts to acquire alternate drinking water supplies for the community through an existing contract with the Army Corps of Engineers and, due to limited funding of that contract, evaluate additional ways to procure alternate water. The center will also look into providing water treatment so Security may resume using groundwater supplies as a drinking water source.
  • An ESA with the Security Water District obtains city services to purchase and distribute alternate drinking water from the Pueblo Reservoir. The Air Force agrees to repay Security for its cost to purchase and transport up to 523 million gallons of drinking water for per year for a potential total cost of $2,903,000 over the terms of the agreement.  Additionally, if Security determines that transporting water from the Pueblo Reservoir is not sufficient to meet customer’s drinking water demand, the Air Force agrees to pay for the drinking water from alternate sources up to 268 million gallons (MG) per year for a potential total cost of $4,316,000 over the terms of the agreement.
“We are dedicated to resolving mission impacts to drinking water supplies and safeguarding the health of our community partners in Colorado and around the country. Thanks to our strong partnership with Fountain, Security and Widefield, these agreements will help us protect those communities as we move forward with our investigation in and around Peterson,” said Suzanne Bilbrey, Director of the AFCEC Environmental Management Directorate.

In 2016, Perfluorooctanesulfonic (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOA) exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory were detected in wells belonging to the three communities. Fountain and Security stopped using the wells and began relying on alternate water sources for the community. Widefield purchased and installed two ion exchange systems to filter out the contamination.

PFOS and PFOA are two compounds found in a former firefighting agent used by Air Force emergency fire response teams to combat petroleum-based fires. 

For more information about the Air Force’s response to PFOS/PFOA, contact the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center at 210-925-0956 or visit www.afcec.af.mil/WhatWeDo/Environment/Perfluorinated-Compounds. 

To contact the 21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office, call 719-556-5185 or email 21sw.pa@us.af.mil.

For more information on water quality in the City of Fountain, Colorado please visit https://www.fountaincolorado.org/government/city_departments___divisions/utilities/utilities_departments/water/water_quality/, or call 719-322-2010.