By: Cynthia Kurtz
San Gabriel Valley water supply, quality, and reliability should not be a problem with the amount of available groundwater in the Valley. The problem in the San Gabriel Valley is not the amount of ground water, but the quality of the water. Each year the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership surveys businesses and water quality and reliability is one of the most important to the businesses of the San Gabriel Valley. Though there is a large amount of groundwater in the San Gabriel Valley, contamination is an ongoing concern. With that in mind the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership supports Rep. Judy Chu’s legislation to extend the accessibility of federal funds to assist in groundwater clean up for the San Gabriel Valley.
Beginning in World War II, the Valley’s rural lifestyle and agricultural economy were replaced with defense-related industries. After years of a productive aerospace industry, unintended consequences caused the water supply to be contaminated to the point of being unusable. This industry contaminated the water through ground disposal of volatile organic compounds used primarily as solvents
The San Gabriel Valley’s groundwater basin is considered one of the most contaminated in the nation. In the 90’s, a plan to clean up these plumes of contaminated water was issued by the Environmental Protection Agency. The primary focus of treatment programs is to prevent the migration of pollutants to near adjacent water supplies.
The San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority was formed by special act of the California Legislature giving them authority to plan for and coordinate among several agencies to clean up the Basin’s water. The WQA is responsible for implementing cleanup projects that will prevent the loss of water supplies. Contaminant migration controls were implemented quickly so that constituents will be prevented from entering clean supplies.
In 2002, seven local water entities entered into a landmark agreement with eight parties responsible for cleanup of the Valley’s largest area of contamination. Valley water suppliers are collectively treating approximately 50.000 acre-feet of water each year to drinking water standards.
Though combined efforts of our congressional representatives federal funds are allocated for groundwater cleanup in the San Gabriel Basin and cover some of these costs as well. U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-32) wants to assure that this Federal funding will continue to flow to groundwater cleanup efforts in the San Gabriel River Basin. Rep. Chu has introduced a piece of legislation that will extend the time in which local agencies can tap into federal funds already allocated for operations and maintenance of groundwater cleanup efforts to 15 years
The San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority can only access operations and maintenance funds through the San Gabriel Basin Restoration Fund for 10 years. Since this 10 year period the WQA has to access funds ends in the next 6 months and groundwater cleanup has proven to take time, it is imperative that this legislation be passed.
Rep. Chu is working with Senator Feinstein on introducing a similar bill in the Senate. The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership believes that this is an important piece of legislation to not only continue contamination cleanup but to prevent the contamination from spreading.