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Colorado lawmakers push federal government to fund PFAS cleanup efforts

Posted at 10:21 PM, Oct 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-09 00:27:32-04

FOUNTAIN — The fight to clean up toxic chemicals in El Paso County continues.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan push came from Colorado lawmakers demanding the federal government do more. They want more money from the feds - millions of dollars and remediation over several years. State senators, representatives, and staff with Environment Colorado met at Fountain Creek Regional Park for a press conference to discuss this issue. Fountain is at the heart of where this contamination was discovered a few years ago.

Republican State Senator Dennis Hisey said, "We need to figure out how to get it out of the ground so by the time the water gets to the treatment plants it's already clean."

The water was contaminated by firefighting foam used on Peterson Air Force Base for years and gradually seeped into well water in the Fountain, and Security-Widefield area.

Hisey said cleaning up the PFAS is "going to take a pretty serious commitment from some very deep pockets, meaning more than what the state is able to put forward."

While the Air Force has taken some initial steps to pay for purification and filtration systems Democratic State Senator Pete Lee says it's not enough. "The Air Force needs to step up and provide funding sufficient to ensure that we have safe, uncontaminated water that is healthy to drink."

For State Representative Lois Landgraf - this is happening in her backyard. She said, "Since moving to Colorado I've lived in both Fountain, Security and Widefield so my family's been drinking this water."

There remain concerns about the health effects - cancer, high cholesterol and developmental issues in children.

Liz Rosenbaum lives in Fountain and she's the founder of the Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition. She said, "This is a pivotal moment in our lives where we can make a change for the better...I am challenging everybody in D.C. to do this hard thing. Fund the NDAA to find out what the health effects are."

There are new concerns in the Woodmen Valley neighborhood of Colorado Springs after these same chemicals, emanating from the Air Force Academy from firefighting foam as well, have been detected. Well water testing continues there.

These state lawmakers did pass legislation this year to ban the use of these chemicals in firefighting training and by late 2021 the sale of foams containing the PFAS will be banned completely. However, they say that's as far as the state can go. Their goal in speaking on Tuesday - to put more pressure on congressional leaders to fund cleanup efforts.

News 5 will keep you posted on this developing story.