Press Releases

Hickenlooper, Bennet Urge Air Force to Address Water Contamination in El Paso County

Jun 27, 2022

Senators ask the Air Force to expand a pilot program that removes harmful polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from water to cover contaminated areas in El Paso County

Washington, D.C.  – U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet urged the U.S. Air Force to address water contamination in El Paso County from polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which was found in firefighting foam used at Peterson Space Force Base (SFB). PFAS has contaminated the Widefield aquifer that provides drinking water to thousands of local residents and supplies surface water to area ponds, some which are used for recreational fishing. 

“We understand that multiple pilot projects are ongoing at Peterson Space Force Base to test technologies that can remove PFAS from groundwater and soils,” wrote Hickenlooper and Bennet in their letter. “Given the elevated levels of PFAS discovered in the fish and surface water of El Paso County linked to contamination from Air Force operations, we request that a pilot project be conducted at Willow Springs pond to test technologies which may be used to remove PFAS from surface water bodies. To the extent possible, the Air Force should coordinate with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the other state partners who research the effects of PFAS contamination.”

In June 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released a report for the Security-Widefield, El Paso County, Colorado, Exposure Assessment investigating exposure to PFAS. The report highlights disturbing data on elevated blood levels of PFAS in residents exposed to drinking water contaminated by operations at the Peterson Space Force Base. These findings reinforce the urgency of improving our understanding of and regulating the use of these forever chemicals. While the health effects of PFAS chemicals are still being determined, studies have linked PFAS exposure to developmental damage, certain cancers, and immune system dysfunction. 

Since the PFAS levels detected in the Widefield aquifer have been linked to Peterson SFB, Hickenlooper and Bennet are calling on the Air Force to expand its pilot program to remove PFAS from water to cover these contaminated areas in El Paso County. The senators are also asking the Biden Administration to partner with Colorado and take additional steps to address PFAS contamination stemming from military activities to protect communities. 

They concluded: “Finally, we ask the administration to commit to partnering with CDPHE and other relevant Colorado agencies, our local communities, and other key stakeholders to address PFAS contamination stemming from military activities. In particular, communication and coordination between all parties studying and working to remedy the PFAS contamination in El Paso County, Colorado is critically important. It is critical that we use the best available science to protect the health and well-being of Coloradans and our communities. We look forward to hearing from you on this issue.”

The full text of the letter is available HERE.


Recent Press Releases