SACRAMENTO — The state Water Resources Control Board today rejected less expensive plans set forth by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and ordered the federal agency to build a 64-acre dump to house contaminated mud and vegetation at the polluted Kesterson Wildlife Refuge.
The bureau won a six-month extension of the time for getting the work done. The water board, which originally wanted the cleanup completed by February, 1988, agreed to push the deadline to August, 1988.
Kesterson, a 6,000-acre refuge for waterfowl 12 miles north of Los Banos in Merced County, made the news in mid-1983 with the discovery of numerous deaths and deformities among birds nesting there.
Scientists blamed the loss of ducks, coots and other birds on selenium, a trace element carried into Kesterson's ponds with waste irrigation water from farms on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.