Long-Term Water Cleanup Needed

R. H. Nicholson Jr.'s plan for cleaning up our ground-water basin--one of the most contaminated--is an attractive one at first glance (Times, Letters, Oct. 13). However, it is a flawed one.

Nicholson, chairman of the board of the San Gabriel Valley Water Co., champions the water suppliers' line of wellhead treatment, cleaning up the ground water as it is pumped from the basin for delivery to water customers. It is an attractive plan with a price tag of $40 million, a fraction of the $800 million being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

However, wellhead treatment is a temporary plan for water cleanup and will, in the long run, cost consumers more money. To understand the cleanup problem, one must look at two separate issues: 1) providing clean, quality water for consumers, and 2) containing further degradation of the ground-water basin.

Wellhead treatment will provide quality drinking water, which producers have and will continue to supply to residents of the San Gabriel Valley, and such a treatment plan should be implemented as a temporary solution.

In the long run, however, wellhead treatment will not rid the basin of contaminants. The entire plume or area of contamination must be eradicated.

The Environmental Protection Agency and other astute leaders in the water industry point out that wellhead treatment will eventually bring about the spread of contaminants that eventually will seep into the lower Central Basin, producing one lawsuit after another. That costly litigation will be paid for by consumers.

Private utilities see a short-term, cost-effective approach in wellhead treatment. In the long run, future generations will be burdened with the cost of wellhead treatment. Public agencies, like the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, see their role as managing this precious public resource for the highest public need.

ANTHONY R. FELLOW

President, Upper San Gabriel

Valley Municipal Water District

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