Officials of the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster have announced a $1.2 million program to help finance ground-water cleanup efforts.
Environmentalists said the money may help with the cleanup effort, which ultimately could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. But they questioned whether the board took the action last week to counter charges it has done little so far to remedy the area's severe ground-water pollution problem, first discovered in 1979.
The watermaster, a nine-member board that oversees pumping of drinking water from the region's underground water supply, will generate the money this year by assessing water companies $5 for every acre-foot drawn from the San Gabriel Basin. An acre-foot, which amounts to 325,000 gallons, supplies the yearly needs for two average families.
Whether the assessment would have any direct effect on consumers' water bills would depend on the dozens of individual water suppliers in the region, officials said.