Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed construction of a $5.4-million water treatment system in a flood area at Whittier Narrows, officials say they are willing to consider another site.
EPA has proposed building the treatment plant next to four wells owned by Suburban Water Systems in the area northeast of Whittier Narrows Dam between the San Gabriel River and the 605 Freeway.
In a recent report analyzing the project, EPA conceded that the site is likely to be flooded once every 30 years but said the plant could be designed with flood-proof features. The EPA report said that trying to find another site would cause an unacceptable delay in construction of the treatment system. But Paula Bisson, in charge of state Superfund programs at the EPA regional office in San Francisco, said that the report is misleading and that other sites will be considered.
"We are very concerned about constructing in the flood plain," Bisson said, adding that a construction delay might be acceptable if a suitable site could be found elsewhere. She said EPA is willing to consider vacant property along Suburban's transmission lines, which carry water from the four wells to customers in the Whittier area. The treatment plant would process water from the four wells.
Bisson said EPA plans to make a decision on the project in September. The treatment system would be designed to remove trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE) and other contaminants that have invaded the local ground water and are moving south to Whittier Narrows, threatening the Central Basin.