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Summary of My Town Hall Meeting on Water Issues

 

December 13, 2017

At a Town Hall on Dec. 4, the subject was the current status of water issues of concern to residents of House District 21. The room was packed with citizens and invited guests. Among those were representatives from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, EPA, El Paso County Public Health, Commissioner Gonzalez, Mayor Ortega, Annie Oatman-Gardner from Senator Bennet's office, Dale Anderson from Congressman Lamborn's office, and representatives from the 3 water districts.

Each gave a presentation on water issues. The only new information came from Ms. Oatman-Gardner and Mr. Anderson. They covered the status of the federal budgets' funding for health studies and reimbursements to local municipalities effected by water issues resulting from Federal Agency release of PFOA and PFOS.

There was no additional information from any of the other agencies because the three water districts had taken all actions necessary to meet the federal requirements for control of these chemicals in May 2016 when the EPA recommended the lowering of the water content of PFOA and PFOS, recommending the lowering of these chemicals from 400 and 200 parts per trillion, respectively, to 70 parts per trillion combined. The Air Force, a contributor to the presence of these compounds in local water used currently available federal funds to provide bottled water, water plant filters and other needed items and actions.

This still leaves expensive actions funded by the water districts from money allocated for maintenance to be reimbursed. That is what the federal budget requests are about. And it leaves the question of the health issues that may affect those who have been consuming this water. The federal government is also addressing this issue since the chemicals may have effected 21 million people in 27 states. Except for a bill which I am considering in our next session which would reduce the time needed to analyze test results, there is no action which can be taken at state level.

Complicating any tests for health problems resulting from PFOA and PFOS is that the Air Force use of these in their firefighting procedures is not the only source of PFOA an PFOS. Any studies funded beyond current studies which led to the EPA reductions in allowable levels will probably take years to complete.

Should we be concerned?

Yes! If we don't get the reimbursed funding for the water districts they will most likely have to increase our water rates to cover the needed maintenance. Delaying or not completing that maintenance to the system would further endanger our water quality.

What about the fact that we have been consuming water which contained PFOA and PFOS for all these years?

Of course, we should be concerned.

What action can we take?

The local community services and leaders have done all they can do by mitigating the problem in our water and making their voices heard to all the parties who can do anything.

What can I do as your representative at the state level?

I have already met with the people at state and federal levels and coordinated several meetings to insure we are not forgotten and that your concerns are being answered. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done at the state level except bring pressure on the federal action agencies. I will continue to do that. As mentioned I am evaluating the possibility of expanding the capabilities of our state lab so that testing could be done locally which would address the exorbitant time and competing priorities faced when we need to send materials for testing to outside facilities. This is a project which would benefit all the citizens of Colorado since it involves testing for many diverse constituencies (eg. Law enforcement, health, medical, etc.)

I can assure all of you that I will continue to monitor and advocate for solutions to these issues, funding testing, reimbursement and health concerns. If you have additional concerns you can always contact me at [email protected] or 710-963-4773.

My Next "Rep Talk" Meeting is Dec. 15

I am doing a series of "open-door" type "Rep Talks" in different locations around the district. At these informal gatherings you can drop in, talk, ask questions or express concerns, there is no agenda. The next one will be Dec. 15, at the American Legion, at 6685 Southmoor Dr Fountain, from 5 to 7 pm. I hope to see you these.

 

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