Security Water District provides drinking water to about 19,000 residential and business customers within our service area, which includes Security and a portion of Fountain.
Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) are a family of manmade chemicals that do not occur naturally in the environment. These compounds are found in firefighting foams, coating additives and surface protection products for carpets and clothing, and other common commercial products. PFCs can make their way into the environment including water.
In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked water providers that serve 10,000 or more people to sample water supplies for PFCs. Security Water complied and shared the findings with the EPA.
EPA did not alert Security Water or other nearby water districts to take any action. In early 2016, the news media notified the District that samples from four groundwater sources exceeded an EPA provisional health advisory level for PFCs.
The EPA issues health advisories to provide water systems with information on contaminants that can cause human health effects and are known or anticipated to occur in drinking water. While non-enforceable, the health advisories provide technical guidance on health effects, analytical methodologies and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination.
At that time, the District was blending groundwater and surface water. The surface water Security uses does not contain PFCs. The blended water did not exceed the advisory level. In an abundance of caution, however, the District shut down seven groundwater wells that may have had levels of PFCs above the provisional health advisory level.
In May 2016, EPA and state of Colorado issued a new health advisory level that was more than 12 times more stringent. Consequently, none of Security Water’s wells met this new standard. However, Security Water had already begun to reduce the amount of groundwater it was using to supply its customers in anticipation of the change.
The District’s service area was divided into its three pressure zones, which coincided with source water entry points. See map. At that time, Zones 2 and 3 were served by mostly surface water. Zone 1 was served by surface water and some well water. Consequently, Zone 1 needed to be converted to all surface water.
Several solutions Security Water implemented in 2016 allowed the District to deliver PFC free water to all its customers in all three zones by the fall of 2016. These included:
Groundwater is the most affordable water source in Security’s water portfolio. Therefore, it is important that groundwater treatment is implemented and the District is able to resume using groundwater as part of our water supply.
Peterson Air Force Base has publically committed to paying $4.3 million to treat contaminated groundwater. PFCs were discovered in fire fighting foam the Air Force used. Security Water is looking to the Air Force to advance their plans to treat the groundwater for PFCs. It is important to the District’s long-term water supply and to manage our water rates to be able to use the groundwater wells again.