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L.A. Loses Out in New Sewer Fund Allocation Formula

September 04, 1987|United Press International

SACRAMENTO — The state Water Resources Control Board on Thursday revised its formula for granting federal money to California's local governments to upgrade defective sewage systems.

Losers in the new formula were the City of Los Angeles and the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which serves Oakland and Berkeley.

Among the winners were San Francisco and the Los Angeles County Sanitation District, which will be eligible for more money than originally anticipated during the 1986-87 and 1987-88 fiscal years.

Allocations Lowered

By a 3-2 vote, the board lowered Los Angeles' allocation for the two years to $60.2 million from the proposed level of $102.7 million. East Bay MUD's grant was cut from $44.5 million to $36.2 million.

Money earmarked for San Francisco was raised from $13.4 million to $38.4 million. Los Angeles County's share rose from $3 million to $28.5 million.

Up for allocation at the board meeting was $270 million made available by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for upgrading defective sewage treatment systems in California--$98 million for the current federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30, and another $172 million for the 1987-88 fiscal year.

Most of the money goes to the state's major metropolitan areas, with the balance allocated to smaller communities with sewage treatment difficulties.

Money From Washington

Although the money comes from Washington, the state water board decides how it is allocated in California. Local governments must match a small percentage of the federal funding in order to receive it.

The federal grant program is expected to end with the 1987-88 fiscal year. After that, local communities that must upgrade their sewage facilities will receive only loans that must be paid back.

The board revised its allocation formula partly because of reports that the full $172 million for the 1987-88 fiscal year might not be made available by Congress, and partly in the face of protests that the Los Angeles area was getting too large a share.

Formula Long in Effect

In changing the allocation system, the board revised a formula that had been in effect for several years.

Board member Danny Walsh of Eureka complained that Los Angeles charges only $6 a month for sewage service, compared with $13.50 for Sacramento, $8 for San Francisco and $9.50 for San Jose.

Walsh said residents of some smaller California communities are forced to pay even higher rates.

"By simply raising the fee by $1 or $2 in large cities, you can raise enough money to do the job (of upgrading sewage service)," Walsh argued.

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