U.S. Senate approves fund
for California groundwater cleanup
By Anna Molin, Bay City News Service
September 30, 2006
The establishment of a $25 million federal fund to reimburse
local water authorities in the Santa Ana watershed and Santa Clara
Valley for perchlorate contamination cleanup came one step closer
to reality Friday after the U.S. Senate authorized the provision.
The terms are included in the National Heritage Act of 2005,
which must still receive presidential approval.
The measure sets up a California Basin Groundwater Remediation
Fund that will oversee the cleanup reimbursements in the Santa
Ana watershed and Santa Clara Valley, where the groundwater contains
some of the highest concentrations of perchlorate contamination
in California, according to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office.
High doses of perchlorate, a chemical used in explosives, rockets
and missiles, have been linked to impaired thyroid function and
could lead to neurological impairment in fetuses and infants and
According to Feinstein's office, perchlorate has been found in
food grown in the Santa Clara Valley where crops are sometimes
irrigated by contaminated groundwater.
"The funds approved by the Senate today will reimburse local
cleanup efforts to remove the contamination of perchlorate from
the groundwater used by hundreds of thousands of people in the
Inland Empire and the Santa Clara Valley,'' Feinstein said in
a statement Friday. "The more we learn about the potential
health risks from perchlorate contamination, the more cause for
concern. So, these funds will make a real difference in ensuring
that California's communities will no longer have to rely on exorbitant
costs to have access to drinking water free of perchlorate contamination.''
The state Department of Health Services, meanwhile, is in the
middle of a public comment period on setting a Maximum Containment
Level (MCL) for perchlorate in drinking water.
The proposed maximum standard of contamination is 6 parts per
billion, the same as the public health goal for perchlorate established
by the California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of
Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) in 2004.
Testing of nearly 7,000 drinking water sources in California
in 1999 showed that about 450 sources in approximately 110 public
water systems contained perchlorate.
The public comment period ends Nov. 3. A public hearing is scheduled
at the California Department of Health Services' auditorium at
1500 Capitol Ave. in Sacramento at 10 a.m. on Oct. 30.
For more information visit: http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/ddwem/chemicals/perchl/perchlindex.htm.
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