The state Department of Health Services will spend $19,000 for an emergency water connection for the 200 customers of an El Monte water company whose wells are contaminated with an industrial solvent, perchloroethylene (PCE). The temporary connection will enable the Richwood Water Co. to draw water from San Gabriel Valley Water Co. until a system can be installed to purify its own water.
State health officials five years ago advised customers of Richwood and two other small El Monte water companies--Rurban Homes Mutual Water Co. and Hemlock Mutual Water Co.--to buy bottled water for drinking and cooking because of contaminated wells. State officials last summer said the contamination of the Richwood supply had increased, making the water unsuitable for bathing as well as drinking, and advised the company to find another water source. A San Gabriel Valley Water Co. official said the connection should be in place by the end of next week.
In addition to paying for the temporary connection, the state health department has agreed to help Richwood, Rurban Homes and Hemlock with permanent water treatment systems. Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-El Monte), who sponsored legislation committing funds for the project, said Kenneth Kizer, state health director, has assured her the state will pay for the project despite misgivings about the maintenance cost, estimated at $1.8 million to $2.3 million over the 20 years.