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Water District Needs More Power in Cleanup Task

May 24, 1990

Rep. Esteban Torres' and Assemblywoman (Sally) Tanner's recent ground-water cleanup summit brought forward several competing position statements on a controlling agency's structure. (Times, May 13.)

Public accountability for a cleanup solution requires a local agency composed of locally elected officials with authority to act to improve water quality. All the necessary powers except one, quality authority, now reside with the Upper San Gabriel Municipal Water District. This agency has sat hand-tied since 1979, when ground-water contamination was discovered in the valley.

Upper San Gabriel MWD needs the Legislature to act to give this public agency water quality and cleanup jurisdiction. Local control can be far cheaper and produce faster results. Local incumbents can be rolled out of office until the voters achieve their desired result. Otherwise, the citizenry may endure 10 more years of gridlock.

Nobody elects (Environmental Protection Agency) bureaucrats. Six of the nine Watermaster's board members are not democratically elected, hence, seem indifferent to public opinion and contamination cleanup demands. Voters cannot control this body even though its administration results in higher water bills for all property owners valleywide. Read this: Fee imposition (taxation) without representation. Paul Revere and the local militia resolved this issue in 1776.

The Air Quality Management District has so far achieved unsatisfactory air quality because the Legislature failed to provide for direct public election of its nine-member, policy-setting board. AQMD sits well-insulated from the political process. The public cannot remove non-performers.

The publication of the EPA basin-wide technical plan ends the work of the federal study phase. Now, equal federal financial resources must be expended for the engineers to design and build the cleanup phase. We must all demand our Superfund-mandated, EPA-implemented cleanup phase. If EPA is let off the hook, then the necessary funds may be removed from your pockets. The current situation in Eastern Europe has freed huge federal funding resources. Priorities must be arranged for progress on the environmental front.

R. WILLIAM ROBINSON

director,

Upper San Gabriel

Municipal Water District

West Covina

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