Senator Feinstein Calls on Governor Schwarzenegger to Push Perchlorate Polluters to Pay for Water Replacement in the Rialto-Colton Basin
May 23 2008
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to push the parties responsible for perchlorate pollution in the Rialto-Colton Basin to pay for water replacement, until the cleanup of the contaminated water in the area has been completed.
The responsible parties in the Inland Empire include: Goodrich Corporation, America Promotional Events, Inc. - West, County of San Bernardino, Emhart Industries/Black & Decker, PyroSpectaculars, Inc. and Zambelli Fireworks Manufacturing Co.
California state officials and the responsible parties are currently engaged in settlement negotiations on a comprehensive and permanent solution to perchlorate contamination in the area. However, it is not clear how long these negotiations might continue.
Senator Feinstein is concerned that local residents are currently required to shoulder the cost of paying for water remediation – to the tune of an 18 percent surcharge on their water bills.
Following is the text of the letter sent by Senator Feinstein to Governor Schwarzenegger:
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:
I want to thank you for your support for adding the perchlorate and TCE contamination plumes in the Rialto-Colton basin to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund National Priorities List. Additionally, I urge you to seek voluntarily water replacement from the parties responsible for the contamination as a condition for state support of any proposed settlement.
While Superfund listing of the site will certainly a positive step, securing replacement water for the City of Rialto and other impacted water agencies in the area may be even more important. Officials from the City of Rialto, the West Valley Water District and other impacted agencies, have indicated that state and federal resources must be focused on obtaining water replacement either by negotiation with those responsible, or by administrative orders available under state and federal law. This would immediately remove the financial burden from the citizens of Rialto and place it on the parties responsible for the contamination. This strategy has been used successfully in the past to address MTBE contamination in the City of Santa Monica, where water replacement orders hastened the cleanup process there.
To give you an example of the burden they are facing, the City of Rialto and the West Valley Water District, which together supply 99% of the water to the citizens of Rialto, have spent over $30 million dollars attempting to force the polluting parties to take responsibility. Collectively, twenty-two wells operated by four water providers in the Rialto-Colton basin are contaminated, though only ten of these wells are receiving treatment. The rough estimate for operation and maintenance of each well is $400,000 per year. Despite their efforts, the problem remains unsolved and the costs are being passed on to the residents of Rialto in the form of an 18% surcharge on their monthly water bills.
Given that identifying and implementing a final remedy will likely take several years, it is appropriate for the responsible parties to assume the burden of providing clean drinking water in the interim. I ask for your help in directing that any resolution between the state and the parties responsible for the pollution include voluntary water replacement, and if voluntary agreement is not forthcoming, that we work together to secure state and federal administrative orders as authorized by law.
Again, thank you for your responsiveness, and your efforts to help bring about a meaningful result.
United States Senator