While offering assurances that San Gabriel Valley drinking water is safe, state and federal officials said last week that industrial solvents are continuing to leak into the area's ground water, complicating the task of cleaning up the contamination.
Neil Ziemba, manager of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's cleanup effort in the San Gabriel Valley, and Hank Yacoub, supervising engineer with the Regional Water Quality Control Board, said defective storage tanks and sloppy handling of chemicals have allowed solvents to seep into ground water since the 1940s.
"Unfortunately contamination is continuing to occur," Yacoub said, despite efforts to monitor storage tanks and require safer handling of chemicals. He said more resources are needed to investigate tank leaks and other suspected sources of contamination.
Pete Rogers, chief of the public water supply branch of the state Department of Health Services, said the area's drinking water remains safe. Some contaminated wells have been closed. Other wells with low amounts of contamination remain in operation, but their water is mixed with uncontaminated supplies to meet state standards, he said.
Officials spoke at a meeting organized by Rep. Esteban Torres (D-La Puente) to give residents a chance to hear reports and ask questions about ground water contamination.