O.C. Water Officials Seek Help From State

Orange County Water District officials are urging the state to provide more resources to clean up oil spills and ban gasoline-powered watercraft on drinking-water reservoirs.

The district’s Board of Directors voted unanimously this week to approve an ambitious plan to ban the use of a gasoline additive called methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) within two years. The additive gets into the drinking-water supply from watercraft using reservoirs.

The resolution also recommends new state legislation to pay for MTBE cleanup and to study the health effects of the additive.

The resolution was prompted by the results of a recent MTBE study by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The study concluded that MTBE is more mobile in ground water than other gasoline additives and is extremely slow to degrade in the environment.


“The results of the study justify immediate action to try to ban MTBE and get the resources needed to deal with existing MTBE contamination in a timely manner,” said Kathryn Barr, the Orange County Water District director.

MTBE is a gasoline additive that enhances combustion, resulting in improved air quality.