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Residents hope for long term solution as more wells are tested near Fairchild AFB

Residents hope for long term solution...

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. - The Air Force Civil Engineering Center is now testing 100 more residential wells for chemicals in the water, this time north and east of Fairchild Air Force Base.

Fairchild says the sampling includes two areas: immediately northwest of the phase three sampling area, which was north of the base, and east to the City of Airway Heights, roughly one mile south and two miles north of Highway 2.

Fairchild Base Commander Colonel Ryan Samuelson tells KXLY the Air Force is currently working on a long term solution for people whose water has been found to have elevated levels of PFOS and PFOA, with the help of the EPA, the state, and community partners.

Meanwhile, people whose wells tested positive months ago are still dealing with water that is not recommended to drink.

Phyllis Dennis found out a few weeks ago that the home she's lived in for twenty-seven years has tested with high levels of PFOS and PFOA. Her home was in the third phase of testing.

"I found out for sure last month that our water was contaminated, and then about a week or so after that they started bringing a bunch of water," Dennis said.

Even before her property was tested, she knew she had been exposed.

Phyllis grew up on the property her niece Julie Dibble now lives on. That property tested positive months ago.

"My aunt's water came up positive, so we have yet more children, more family members that are more affected by it and others that are still waiting, so the frustration has continued and we still don't have any resolve for our personal property," said Dibble.

Now, the Air Force is providing both households drinking water.

"The Civil Engineering Center is actually working with state, EPA, and other community services to determine what the long term mitigation for this entire community is," explained Base Commander Colonel Ryan Samuelson.  

Col. Samuelson says a one-size-fits-all solution may not be possible.

"[For] some residents it's a simple filtration system at the source, other residents depending on where they are, how bad their well was contaminated, it may be a whole house system, versus new wells, all of those are on the table," Col. Samuelson said.

Phyllis and Julie know it's not an easy fix, but, they hope to soon have a definitive answer and timeline for what's next.

"We were reassured they were getting this done right away," Dibble said.

"We don't have filtration, we don't even have basic filters we can use on our faucets or showers which would be nice, but we've personally went out and bought some of those things."

"It's aggravating," Dennis said, "you can't really get them pinned down to anything."

Col. Samuelson says so far, 29 of the almost 100 residences in this current phase have been tested. Those test results will take a few weeks to come back.

He says with those phase one and two residents like Julie Dibble who were tested months ago, the Air Force will follow up with them to answer their specific questions about short term plans and long term solutions.