Water Rate Hike Called Inappropriate

Your article (Sept. 29) on possible Duarte water rate increases to end dependence on wells in the San Gabriel Valley was well received. Your staff writer, however, was probably unaware of another piece of printed matter on the subject that arrived in the mail at my house two days after your article ran.

The notice, which was mailed by the San Gabriel Valley Water Co., warned customers that the water coming out of their taps was contaminated. After wading through language that used terms such as "trace amounts" and "action levels," we learned that lab animals got tumors from the water, and that the state Department of Health Services recommended using bottled water for drinking and cooking.

There are two obvious and somewhat immediate needs here. First, the people who are affected by this contaminated water must have clean, healthful water made available to them now . Second, the water company must be allowed to proceed with the most sensible long-term plan to provide good water.

Contrary to what is being proposed, the solution to the problem should not be placed on the customers' shoulders. The responsibility for the contamination of our water is clearly on the shoulders of our industrial and governmental leaders. It was their checks and balances that failed.

Rate hikes have been an all-too-obvious but inappropriate answer, and the 74% increase over three years in this case is absurd. It is time for us to develop an innovative assessment practice in environmental cases wherein industrial, governmental and others who share culpability are assessed a share in funding corrective actions.

Charles House


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