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Bioenvironmental Engineering reports water quality

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado -- Colorado Springs Utilities supplies drinking water to Peterson AFB. Base personnel can get the facts about the water they drink from the recently released CSU 2015 Water Quality Report. This report (reporting period Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2014) informs the public about the water quality and services CSU delivers to the base every day.

CSU staff, as well as the 21st Medical Group's Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight, test the water consumed throughout the base. Throughout the process of collection, treatment and distribution, certified water treatment plant operators and laboratory staff monitor the water quality for its chemical and biological content. Some of these analyses are required to meet state and federal standards, while others are part of ongoing testing to assure a continual supply of high quality drinking water. CSU employees test the water at treatment plants and throughout the CSU water distribution system. Bioenvironmental engineering tests water at 10 different sampling locations per month for microbiological contamination that could occur in the Peterson section of the distribution system. The Peterson sample sites include the dining facility, Exchange food court, aircraft watering points, and the child development centers. All microbiological samples collected in 2014 were analyzed by El Paso County Public Health laboratory and reported safe.

During July 2014, the 21st MDG Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight collected drinking water samples from the Peterson AFB Main Child Development Center, Pete East CDC and the RP Lee Youth Activities Center in response to a recent Department of Defense inspection that identified a new sampling requirement from outdoor water spigots used by children and staff. The EPA's Lead Contamination Control Act is the regulatory policy focused on limiting the levels of lead in drinking water fountains and faucets in centers designed for children. Children under six years old are most at risk to lead exposure because of their rapid rate of growth. Any outlet for potable water is a potential source of drinking water; however, some faucets are regularly used by staff for drinking, cooking, cleaning, etc., while others may not. Samples were collected in accordance with LCCA protocols by collecting 250 mL first-draw samples from the outdoor spigots and other indoor faucets not previously tested. The protocol maximizes the likelihood that the highest concentrations of lead are found because the first 250 mL of water has sat in the plumbing lines overnight, ideally for at least eight hours. In accordance with Air Force Instruction 48-144, "Drinking Water Surveillance Program," actions must be taken if any lead drinking water sample results from CDCs, youth centers, or schools exceed 20 parts per billion (ppb). Lead sample results from all three facilities reported well below 20 ppb. The water is safe to drink and no further lead testing is required.

With no major source of water nearby, CSU relies on a raw water collection system that delivers water to Colorado Springs from nearly 200 miles away. The headwaters, or sources, that supply these systems originate in wilderness areas near Aspen, Leadville, and Breckenridge. Nearly 75 percent of our water originates from many mountain streams (surface water). Water from these streams is collected and stored in various reservoirs along the Continental Divide. The collection systems in this area consist of the Homestake, Fryingpan-Arkansas, Twin Lakes, and Blue River systems. The majority of this water is transferred to Colorado Springs through pipelines that help to protect the water from contamination, such as, herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals and other chemicals. Water delivered to Colorado Springs is stored at Rampart Reservoir and at the Catamount reservoirs on Pikes Peak which then supply CSU water treatment plants.

CSU also uses local surface water sources from the north and south slopes of Pikes Peak, North and South Cheyenne Creeks, Fountain Creek, Monument Creek/Pikeview Reservoir and the Northfield Watershed.

Additionally, CSU purchases treated surface water from the Fountain Valley Authority. FVA receives water from the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. The Fryingpan-Arkansas Project is a system of pipes and tunnels that collects water in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness Area near Aspen. Waters collected from the system are diverted to the Arkansas River, near Buena Vista, and then flow approximately 150 miles downstream to Pueblo Reservoir. From Pueblo Reservoir, the water travels through a pipeline to the CSU water treatment plant. The water source may vary during the year and may be a blend of surface water and purchased water.

To view the complete 2015 Water Quality Report, visit www.csu.org, and click on Community/Water Quality/ 2015 Water Quality Report (reporting year 2014). Customers without web access can obtain a hard copy of the report at the Bioenvironmental Engineering office located in building 1246. The report will also be provided to all base dormitory residents.

For questions concerning water quality issues in the Tierra Vista Community distribution system, call the TVC Facility Maintenance Department at 597-5950.

For more information about Peterson Air Force Base water quality, call Michael Puleo at 556-7721.

(Water quality information courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities and Bioenvironmental Engineering)

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