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Monterey Park Reimbursed For Water Cleanup

Jan 20, 2003 | San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The city of Monterey Park received $700,000 Monday to help clean up contaminated groundwater that has forced the closure of almost half its wells.

Chemicals including industrial solvents and cancer-causing perchlorate have forced the city to shut down seven of its 15 wells, which all are located in Rosemead and are included in a South El Monte federal Superfund site.

The money, issued by the Covina-based San Gabriel Valley Water Quality Authority, will be used to reimburse the city for money it already has spent in starting the cleanup of volatile organic compounds. It also will pay for a treatment plant that rids the city's water of perchlorate, officials said.

"Our vision is to make sure our rate-payers are not paying the cost of cleanup that others caused,' Monterey Park Mayor David Lau said.

Lau said the city and others successfully sued 13 of the dozens of companies named by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as responsible for the contamination.

The water quality authority grant comes from a mix of related settlement money as well as federal dollars designated for groundwater treatment.

Water officials say Monterey Park's grant is one of several expected this year to be given to area cities and water companies. Most of the funds come to the state agency annually from the federal government via legislation authored by U.S. Rep. David Dreier, R-Glendora.

"This is a good example of how the Dreier funds were to be used,' said WQA Chairman Ken Manning. Manning said cities like Monterey Park have been using their own money to start cleanup efforts rather than waiting for the funding to become available.

Monterey Park provides water for 95 percent of its residents through wells it owns in Rosemead, as the city does not sit on top of the San Gabriel Water Basin. It so far has not needed to raise water rates. Officials say it was the EPA that listed them as a priority for funding because the city is on the outskirts of the contamination area and treatment plants there might block the plume from spreading to other water sources.

"We can act as a curtain to slow down the pollution to the other wells,' City Manager Chris Jeffers said.

The cleanup, officials say, is expected to take at least 15 years.

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