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Some Gleneagle residents concerned over contaminated water supply

Posted at 7:47 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 08:40:05-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Some Gleneagle residents are raising concerns after their water company notified them about high levels of radium in their water supply.

Earlier this week, Donala Water and Sanitation sent out a letter stating it violated the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's drinking water requirements. The limit of combined radium is 5 pCi per liter, but 6.7 pCi per liter has been the average over the past year.

"We were alarmed that there was a problem, I didn't know about it. We've heard of radium and we were concerned when the article came out because we didn't know what it meant or what we would need to do to protect ourselves," said Ken Sylvester.

He's lived in Gleneagle for years and has devices installed in his home to detect radium.

"We were told the biggest problem is down near the mountains, and we didn't know what that meant for our specific location and water supply," said Sylvester.

Sylvester says he thought the notification sent out to residents could have been more detailed.

"The numbers only indicated a problem existed. In my professional career, before I retired, a lot of data usually says a problem exists but not exactly what the problem is or how to deal with it to protect yourself," said Sylvester.

According to Donala Water and Sanitation, the systems are tested regularly for contaminants.

"We've been aware of it and the district has been working to import some of our water. Right now we get twenty-five percent of our water delivered through the Colorado Springs Utilities System from ranch water we bought up by Leadville," said Jeff Hodge, General Manager of Donala Water and Sanitation.

He says the increase in combined radium may be because of higher temperatures and more water use.

"Quite often these are just naturally occurring deposits of the different materials that have the radium in it. So maybe right now we are pulling at our wells at a higher rate that's bringing more of that into our system," said Hodge.

Hodge says they are increasing blending rates and surface water to help dilute the radium.

"We already treat to take out the manganese and some of the iron that is naturally occurring in these wells. Now the process of adding an additional chemical to grab the radionuclides will be quite simple and we are already in the process as we speak," said Hodge.

He says the water is safe to drink, but the risk of cancer does increase over fifty years of drinking radium-contaminated water. Anyone severely immune composed, elderly or pregnant may be at increased risk and encouraged to seek advice from their doctor.

"We will be taking it out, we will definitely be getting it down to those levels. We sampled all of our individual wells this Tuesday to see if it's one of those wells that is pulling more of that material from that one pocket. That'll be easy to fix, we can turn that one well off in the interim. More importantly, we'll be adding the HMO process to grab this material and filter it out in our existing materials," said Hodge.

Donala Water and Sanitation expects to have the issue resolved by Aug. 31, 2023. The district will be testing more frequently to ensure levels stay low.