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2 Pollutants Make Much of Our Water Undrinkable

Jan 28, 2003 | AP

More than 70 billion gallons of California groundwater is undrinkable because of contamination by just two highly publicized pollutants, an environmental group says in a report being released today.

That's enough to supply 400,000 families for a year, according to Environment California, an offshoot of the California Public Interest Research Group.

The study targets estimates of water contaminated by two major pollutants: MTBE, a gasoline additive that trims air pollution, and perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel and some dry-cleaning processes.

The group sifted data from eight communities on how many wells had been contaminated, and how much water they would have produced.

Colton, joined by nearby cities, is fighting an underground perchlorate plume that affects 75 wells and closed 20 wells that could supply 120,000 families.

The largest impact is to 50 perchlorate-contaminated wells in the San Gabriel Valley, enough to supply 250,000 families.

Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento, has perchlorate pollution from its Aerojet plant. Six affected wells there would have been enough to supply 22,000 families. Fresno has eight contaminated wells.

Santa Monica and San Diego are dealing with MTBE contamination, including a plume underneath San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium.


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