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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Flushing of contaminated water in Airway Heights could take until Thursday or later

Airway Heights Public Work Department flushes potentially contaminated water from a fire hydrant into Aspen Grove Park in Airway Heights, Friday May 19, 2017. The city is working to remove contaminates from the water pipes caused when chemicals used for fire suppression at Fairchild Air Force Base entered the water supply. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Airway Heights officials now say it could take until Thursday or later to finish flushing city pipes of contaminated drinking water.

Previously they had expected to complete the process by Monday morning. They are expelling water that has been contaminated with chemical runoff from Fairchild Air Force Base.

Mitch Metzger, chief of the Airway Heights Fire Department, said that more than 8 million gallons of water had been released onto irrigation land as of Monday morning. The city must work in conjunction with the state Department of Health.

Capt. David Liapis, of Fairchild’s public affairs office, said there is currently no way for the base to supply clean drinking water through the city’s pipes.

“The simple fact is there’s not a physical link between the two systems,” Liapis said. “There’s no valve to turn, no spigot.”

Airway Heights is flushing its system with clean water from the city of Spokane, which draws from a different acquifer. The Air Force has begun paying for bottled water that’s being distributed to residents in a vacant lot behind the Yoke’s grocery store.