Ground-Water Cleanup Efforts

A great deal of confusion exists over ground-water pollution in the San Gabriel Valley and efforts to organize a cleanup program.

The confusion and controversy arise through shortsighted or politically motivated misinformation. Even two members of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District added to this misinformation in a recent letter to the editor (Times, June 21).

The San Gabriel Basin is one of the most polluted in the United States. Federal, state and regional agencies agree that massive efforts using the latest technologies are required to clean up the basin--the primary drinking-water source for more than 1 million residents.

Because of the extent of the pollution, the San Gabriel Basin is on the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list for cleanup funding. But the cost for doing an effective job is even beyond the Superfund resources. What is needed is a separate organization with the authority and sources of funding to conduct a coordinated cleanup.

The problem has been finding or creating an agency with the authority and access to resources to do the job. An opportunity to form such an agency was presented in the form of two bills introduced in the current session of the State Legislature: SB 1679 by Sen. Newton Russell (R-Glendale) and SB 44 by Sen. Art Torres (D-Los Angeles).

Both bills established a five-member basin-wide agency composed of local elected officials--one representative each from the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District and Three Valleys Municipal Water District, and two city council members elected by the cities in the San Gabriel Valley.

With slight variations, both bills allowed the agency to undertake cleanup projects and finance such projects.

The Torres bill, SB 44, has failed to pass out of committee. But the Russell bill, SB 1679, is moving and, hopefully, will win approval. We see this as our major hope to get an effective cleanup program under way in our basin.

During this election year, our basin's ground-water problem will be a hot topic with state and local candidates. It is important that we expose the political hyperbole before November and get serious about ground-water cleanup.

An agency with the authority to act and fund the cleanup projects now is the solution. It is unfortunate that some of our water board directors, who should know the issues, choose instead to play politics with the problem.

TONY FELLOW

President, Upper San Gabriel

Valley Municipal Water District

SANDRA BALDONADO

President, Three Valleys

Municipal Water District

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