Clean water wars target state

first_imgWater quality authorities and federal officials on Thursday called on the state to pick up more of the tab for cleaning local groundwater, an effort estimated to cost nearly $1 billion over the next 30 years. Perchlorate contamination and a $400 million gap in funding to clean up pollution were the main concerns cited at a forum on San Gabriel Valley groundwater pollution. The event was sponsored by Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, at Cal State Los Angeles. “We have been overlooked time after time” when trying to get groundwater cleanup on a state bond, said Grace Burgess, executive director of the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority. “The feds have done their part. Where is the state in all of this?” The San Gabriel Basin is the primary source of water for 1 million Valley residents. Volatile organic compounds were discovered in San Gabriel Valley water in 1979, and perchlorate was discovered in 1997. Solis has introduced legislation to require the EPA to establish a national perchlorate standard. To clean the Baldwin Park site, three treatment facilities have been built and another is under way, funded mostly by responsible parties, the largest which were Aerojet General Corp., Huffy Corp., Oil & Solvent Process Co., and Wynn Oil Co. But in South El Monte many of the potentially responsible parties are medium-sized or small “mom-and-pop” businesses unable to pay for cleanup, said Kathleen Salyer, section chief of the U.S. EPA’s Region 9 Superfund Division. WQA chairman Bob Kuhn said in the South El Monte operable unit, 14 companies have settled with the WQA and are providing $5.8 million for cleanup, but more than 50 are still in lawsuits. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2The Valley’s six contamination sites, under Baldwin Park, South El Monte, El Monte, La Puente, Whittier Narrows and Alhambra, have been polluted with various chemicals including volatile organic compounds and perchlorate. The EPA is investigating perchlorate contamination in an area under Alhambra. The companies responsible for the pollution have funded the bulk of clean-up costs thus far, contributing 81.1 percent, while federal funds account for 13.4 percent and local sources (including water companies) another 4 percent. The state has contributed 1.5 percent to date, according to the Water Quality Authority, which projected a funding shortage of $418 million over the next three decades. The WQA oversees cleanup efforts in the San Gabriel Valley. San Gabriel Valley Water Co. president Michael Whitehead said if the problem is ignored, the burden of paying for cleanup would fall on rate-payers. “The funding gap is going to create a potential crisis in this Valley,” Whitehead said. “We need for the state to participate in cleaning this basin.” Cleanup of the basin would increase storage capacity for dry years and reduce dependence on imported water from the Colorado River, Whitehead said. last_img read more