Thousands of residents in Southern Colorado are on edge after finding out their water may be contaminated.
The EPA found elevated levels of PFC’s, a man-made chemical, in a water source used by Fountain, Security, and Widefield. News 5 has learned that Windmill Gulch Aquifer and Widefield Aquifer were among the water sources tested, and that as many as 40,000 people could be affected by the contaminated water.
"We do drink filtered water from the fridge already. But we cook with the water, we give it to our animals, we clean with it. So that's concerning to me that if we can't ingest it, I'm a little worried about how else we use it as well,” Fountain resident Jenn Leonard said.
Overexposure to PFC’s can result in adverse health effects including developmental issues in babies. El Paso County Public Health has issued a warning to pregnant or breastfeeding women, suggesting they use alternative water sources to protect themselves and their children.
"Out of an abundance of caution, we're suggesting they might consider that alternate source of water," Aaron Dousett, Water Quality Program Manager for El Paso County Public Health, said.
Jenn Leonard, owner of Colorado Mountain Doulas, says she felt it was important to share the news on Facebook to alert any new moms or moms-to-be about potentially hazardous drinking water in their area.
According to Fountain Water District officials, most of the city’s residents are in the clear, because they’re using surface water which is different than the ground and well water that was tested.
But Security Water District officials say it’s a different story for their residents. Some receive ground water and some receive surface water, depending on the zone they’re in.
The Water District has been fielding calls all day about whether or not a filter would make the contaminated water safe to drink.
“That's part of the problem,” said Roy Heald, with the Security Water District. “These chemicals are so new, there's not really a lot of information out there on that. I guess what I would advise is to check with the manufacturer of the device specifically for these chemicals and ask them if they indeed remove these chemicals."
Many residents in the area aren't taking any chances, stocking up on bottled water. Local and state health departments are working with the EPA to determine how the problem can be fixed, which could take longer than many homeowners are comfortable with.
"I want to know exactly how much is in our water. I want to know what we can do to fix it. I want to know why this problem wasn't being addressed before,” Widefield resident Caitlin Castillo said.
Widefield Water District officials did not return phone calls Thursday, and have not confirmed the source of water being distributed to their customers, leaving the community with a lot of questions.
If you are unsure what source of water your household is receiving, you are encouraged to contact your public water district. A petition has been started to push for free bottled water for residents in the area.
For an interactive map of contaminations in your area, click here.