Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is happening with the water supply system in Airway Heights?
City Water users were advised in early May 2017 not to use tap water for drinking or cooking. Safe water supplies were provided to City residents while environmental investigations were conducted. The advisory was lifted on June 8.
Currently, the environmental investigations are still ongoing, and a source of safe drinking water has been secured through the City of Spokane.
2. Is the water safe to use?
Yes. Restrictions on using City water were lifted on June 8. Water from the City of Airway Heights water system is now being piped from the City of Spokane's water system. Conservation recommendation are still in place and the City has reduced its own water usage by 50 percent. We continue to ask residents and businesses to reduce irrigation use, where possible.
3. What are the health risks associated with PFOS and PFOA?
Sampling results obtained by the Air Force indicated Perfluorooctanesulfonic (PFOS) and Perfluorootanoic acids (PFOA) concentrations above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lifetime Health Advisory (HA) levels. The EPA's HA levels are based on cumulative lifetime exposure from water ingestion, not from skin contact or breathing water vapor, which are considered safe.
PFOS/PFOAs are classified by the EPA as "emerging contaminants" and are present in common household items, and in heat and fire-resistant products, including aqueous foam formulations that were used by Air Force in fire trucks from 1970-2016, including those at Fairchild Air Force Base.
4. Who is responsible for the contamination?
Fairchild Air Force Base is working with the City to investigate the contamination. The possible source of the contamination is a fire training facility near the eastern edge of the base.
5. When will the contamination be cleaned up?
Sampling of wells will continue as the City and Fairchild Air Force Base determine the next steps in the cleanup. The City is using water from the City of Spokane through an intertie until its own wells can be used again or another permanent water supply is in place.
6. Will my water bills be affected?
No. The City is working to make sure ratepayers do not have to pay for the investigation and cleanup.
7. What are the restrictions on my water usage? How long will they be in effect?
There are no restrictions on drinking, cooking, bathing, or other indoor use. The City has asked for restrictions on irrigation and outdoor use as follows:
- Sprinklers: Automatic in-ground sprinklers are permitted for watering lawns and landscaping only as follows:
- Even numbered addresses may water on even days
- Odd numbered addresses may water on odd dates
- Timing: Please water established lawns, trees, shrubs, and plants at homes, businesses, apartments, and open spaces before 10AM or after 6PM.
- Gardens: Vegetable gardens and flowers may be watered. However, please do so only in the cooler hours of the day to reduce evaporation. If you have not already applied mulch to your garden, do so as soon as possible. Use a soaker hose or drip lines instead of a sprinkler, or water by hand, so that water goes only to the plants that need it.
- Lawn Heights: Let your grass grow longer by raising your lawnmower's cutting height. Longer blades of grass help shade each other, reducing evaporation.
- Fertilization: Please stop fertilizing; it only promotes new growth. When you mow, leave grass clippings on the lawn to reduce moisture.
8. What about people who get their water from a community well?
Other community wells provide water to some residents who are not on the City water system. Fairchild Air Force Base officials are continuing to sample and test those wells, and alternate sources of water continue to be provided to some individual well users.