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Town of Monument working on long-term solution for radium contamination

Posted at 8:04 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 12:59:03-05

MONUMENT — Some Monument residents are raising concerns after the town notified them of a high percentage of radium in their water supply. Since the town's water system consists of nine groundwater wells, it's more susceptible to radium contamination.

During the course of the Radium Removal Pilot Study, the Town of Monument received notice from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that water exiting the plant for Well #9, had exceeded the maximum contaminant level for Radium 226 / 228. The maximum contaminant level for Radium 226 / 228 is 5.0 pCi/L. The running average, at this designated sample site, was 5.67 pCi/L based upon the 4 quarters sampled. Radium is a naturally occurring element that is usually found on the Front Range and areas of Arkansas Valley.

"We recently had a notification from the state that we had exceeded the radium limit. As such, we are required to issue a notice to all of our consumers, stating when it occurred and what to do. With the state, there is multiple health effect language that has to go into that notice. There's a lot of information that we try to get out, but can't necessarily put into that letter," said Thomas Tharnish, Public Works Director for The Town of Monument.

At the beginning of August, Well #9 was reduced by over 80 percent to reduce the impact of Radium in the system. At this time, the well is running at the minimum required flow to complete the pilot study.

"This is a system that will run until December 3 and then it'll be shut down then they'll take the data and compile it and design larger vessels. They're going to be in the neighborhood of 14 feet and 5 feet diameter full of the same material that's in this pilot study," said Tharnish.

Well #9 is undergoing the pilot study to ensure the planned remedial technology installed is efficient at removing a high percentage of the Radium before it enters the treatment plant process.

"We need to have the well running at a lower rate in order to get the data we need for the permanent system to be installed," said Tharnish.

While some customers are raising concerns over health, City officials say since it's a "Chronic Containment" so it's not necessarily harmful.

"Chronic meaning you have to drink this water above the limit for decades in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 years in order to see an increase for the risk of cancer," said Tharnish.

Mayor Don Wilson says customers who live close to the well shouldn't be concerned with the radium since it doesn't go directly to their home.

"It is mixed with the rest of our system and basically diluted. Basically know it's done at the source, not at the tap, " said Wilson.

Since the town first had the issue back in 2017, officials say they've been working on finding better processes.

"We knew with the prior issue that the dilution system wouldn't last forever and we needed to come up with something more permanent," said Wilson.

With new technology to be installed with the new pilot program, they claim it will permanently solve the problem.

"We believe the pilot study is going to work, CDPHE believes the pilot study is going to work and our engineers so we've invested in it and going to move forward with that," said Mike Foreman, Manager of the Town of Monument.

The proposed treatment technology system is anticipated to be installed and operational by the Fall of 2021. Anyone with questions or concerns can contact Thomas Tharnish at (719) 884- 8039 or via email