Prowers Health Officials Investigate Possible Lead Contamination

Health officials at the Prowers County Public Health & Environment Department are working with the City of Lamar, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to investigate lead contamination from a water tank near Lamar.

Paint and soil samples from the vicinity of the tank had high concentrations of lead, which may require an environmental clean-up under the state’s solid and/or hazardous waste regulations. The Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division at the state health department will be doing additional soil sampling to determine the extent of contamination and whether a clean-up will be necessary.

Preliminary analysis indicated the sources of contamination to be paint chips of lead based paint from the exterior of the tank. Samples taken from the storage tank show the water meets safe drinking water standards.

Ron Falco, safe drinking water program manager at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said, “While there is not an immediate threat to the public from the drinking water, we wanted the public to know of the on-going sampling, and that we will continue to monitor the situation.”

The investigation began when illness and some death loss was noted in calves that were pastured near the water tank.  Necropsies and laboratory tests on two of the calves showed they died from elevated lead in their systems.  The preliminary investigation determined lead-based paint chips blowing off of the city’s 6-millon gallon water storage tank contaminated the area where the cattle were previously pastured.

The remaining cattle in the herd have been moved from the site of the contamination and are being held for testing.


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