AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. --- After more than 20 days without drinkable tap water, Airway Heights officials said the water is now safe to drink.
“It’s been humbling to see the outpouring of support,” Albert Tripp, the city manager said on Thursday. “We’d like to thank our citizens and our businesses for their patience.”
City leaders pulled 21 new samples on Monday. All of those came back showing the contaminants in the water were at or below the advisory level. The city did several rounds of testing on the water over the last three weeks. Each time they said the results were getting better as they continued to flush the water system. They said that was proof the flushing process was working.
Residents have been drinking bottled water since May 16, when officials announced there were high levels of two different contaminants in the water. The acids in the water are classified by the EPA as emerging contaminants and are present in common household items and heat and fire resistant products, including aqueous film forming foam formulations that were used by the Air Force in fire trucks from 1970-2016 including those at Fairchild AFB.
Residents will still be able to pick up bottled water until about 10:00 p.m. on Thursday.
Fairchild Air Force Base officials said in a release they will continue to provide bottled water to private well owners whose wells have been sampled by the Air Force and are above the contamination levels "until a long-term solution is implemented."
The city said this process took much longer than they anticipated because the two chemicals that made the water unsafe two drink were found in the pipes. So the chemicals had to be entirely flushed out of the pipes before they could give the ok.
"Our support to our affected private well owners does not stop, nor does our continued look at what other private wells may need to be tested in coordination with the Air Force Civil Engineer Center," Col. Ryan Samuelson, the Fairchild Air Force Base commander said.
Tripp said they are evaluating several different long-term solutions to the water situation in Airway Heights, including using a different aquifer.