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Bonds to Pay for New L.B. Water Plant

March 17, 1994|JOHN POPE

LONG BEACH — The city is preparing to issue $38 million in bonds to finance a new water treatment facility that will replace a 45-year-old plant that officials say does not meet stringent health and seismic safety codes adopted in recent years.

Since 1949, the city's water treatment plant at Redondo Avenue and Spring Street has ensured that Long Beach's ground water--about 42% of its total supply--is safe to drink. The water is pumped from 25 wells, officials said.

But by 1997, new federal water standards will require several additional chemical tests and treatments that the current plant is not equipped to perform, said Dave Ferguson, assistant general manager of the Long Beach Water Department. In addition, he said, the current facility would have questionable reliability in the event of a major earthquake.

The City Council voted last week to hire a law firm to assist with the bond issue. The bonds are scheduled to be sold in June and construction on the two-year project is scheduled to begin in July.

Long Beach raised its water rates about 25% in July to pay for various system improvements, higher rates for water imported from the Metropolitan Water District, and to cover the new plant. The average residential water bill increased from $18.90 to $23.90 a month.

The new plant will help cut costs by reducing reliance on the MWD, which provides 58% of the city's water. Although the water will be subject to additional treatment, residents are not likely to notice any difference, Ferguson said.

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