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Chemical Found In Firefighting Foam Discovered In Water Supply

By Makenzie O'Keefe

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) - The South Adams County Water & Sanitation District has shut down three wells after potentially harmful chemicals used in firefighting foam and manufacturing were found in the water.

Officials said they started investigating the water supply in the area near Interstate 270 and Quebec Street.

South Adams County Water & Sanitation District
(credit: CBS)

Representatives from the district said the compounds in the water put the water quality at a level below the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended health advisory. The raw well water had PFC concentrations between 24 and 2,280 parts per trillion, according to Kipp Scott, the district's water systems manager. After treatment, the PFC levels fell to 45 to 64 parts per trillion which is below the federal governments limit.

They said that the water is still generally safe to drink.

"We reported these levels to the Colorado Department of Health out of an abundance of caution because there could be people using the water supply like private wells, that would not have the same treatment in place that we do," Scott said.

A source told CBS4 they have not begun to try to find out where the contamination came from. That will involve additional sampling and testing. The compounds are known to be linked to firefighting foam, industrial activities and chemical products.

"We'll be looking at that over the next weeks to months but at this time it's too early to tell where it came from," Scott said.

The most contaminated wells have been shut down, and the district said it is buying water from Denver's utility to make up the difference.

South Adams County Water & Sanitation District
(credit: CBS)

The district serves approximately 50,000 people in Commerce City.

Commerce City resident Jordan Nelson told CBS4 he and his son don't drink the water at his house over concerns about its quality.

"We get bottled water because it just hasn't been up to par lately. I know they're trying to fix the problem but it just hasn't been fixed," Nelson said.

In 2015, the compounds were found in three utility systems serving about 69,000 people south of Colorado Springs in the city of Fountain and in Security-Widefield, an unincorporated community.

Fountain fire dept off to Kansas
(credit: Fountain Fire Department, Twitter)

PFC levels there exceeded EPA advisory limits. The utilities took steps to reduce the amount of water they took from the contaminated wells or shut them down.

The PFCs were traced to nearby Peterson Air Force Base, which had used firefighting foam containing the compound.

The Air Force agreed to buy clean drinking water and to operate and maintain filter systems for the utilities.

Makenzie O'Keefe joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2017. Read her bio, connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter at @makenziepokeefe or email her your story ideas.

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