Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Bioenvironmental Engineering reports base water quality

by Michael Puleo

Bioenvironmental Engineering flight

Base employees and residents can get the facts about the water they drink from the recently released Colorado Springs Utilities 2009 Water Quality Report, reporting period Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2008.

This report is designed to inform the public about the quality of water and services CSU delivers to the city’s population, including Peterson Air Force Base.

According to CSU, the drinking water continually meets or surpasses state and federal standards for drinking water.

CSU, as well as the 21st Medical Group’s Bioenvironmental Engineering flight, test the water consumed throughout the base. CSU tests water at its sources, and in the city distribution system.

Bioenvironmental engineering tests water at 18 different sampling locations per month for microbiological contamination that could occur in the Peterson section of the distribution system. The sample sites include child development centers, youth activity center, dining facility, and several Peterson East facilities. All of the microbiological samples collected in 2008 were analyzed by the El Paso County Health Department laboratory. All but one of the samples reported negative for the presence of bacteria. One sample collected at the Base Exchange in January reported positive for Total Coliform bacteria, possibly due to a false positive, and immediate follow-up samples were negative.

In September 2008, bio environmental performed annual lead and copper sampling at both child development centers and the youth center to ensure the water met all state and federal standards. All lead and copper sample results reported below the EPA action level.

Nearly 75 percent of the water provided by CSU originates from mountain streams. 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 protect the water from contaminants, 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 the CSU water treatment plants.

Local surface water sources are from the north and south slopes of Pikes Peak, North and South Cheyenne Creeks, Fountain Creek, Monument Creek/Pikeview Reservoir, and the Northfield Watershed. 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 the Pueblo Reservoir, and then on to the water treatment plant. The source water may vary during the year and may be a blend of surface water and purchased water.

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. Others are part of ongoing testing to assure a continual supply of high quality drinking water.

As water travels over the surface of the land and through the ground, it dissolves naturally occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity.

The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk. For more information about the contaminants, potential health effects and drinking water programs authorized under the Safe Drinking Water Act, call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791) or go to

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general public. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. The EPA and Center for Disease Control guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and microbiological contaminants are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline.

To view the complete 2009 Water Quality Report, click here. Customers without web access can obtain a hard copy of the report at the Bioenvironmental Engineering office located in building 1246 at 625 Ent Ave. The report will also be posted in all base dormitory facilities.

Bioenvironmental Engineering no longer conducts drinking water surveillance in base housing. For questions concerning water quality issues in the Tierra Vista Community distribution system, call the TVC Facility Maintenance Department at 597-5950.

For information about Peterson Air Force Base water quality, call Master Sgt. Terrance Callaghan at 556-7721.

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

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