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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Water Plant Approved to Halt Contamination

May 25, 1999

WHITTIER NARROWS — The San Gabriel Water Quality Authority plans to build a treatment plant just north of the existing Whittier Narrows dam to stop ground water contamination from spreading into the Los Angeles Basin.

The $500,000 project would halt significant portions of so-called volatile organic compounds from flowing underground along the path of the San Gabriel River, said Grace Burgess, agency assistant executive director.

"The [compounds] are at the doorstep of Whittier Narrows," she said, adding that they pose a major threat to the central basin water supply, which serves 1.4 million people.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will dig the well at San Gabriel and Rosemead boulevards, and the local water authority will build the treatment system, which could be in operation in August, Burgess said.

The facility will be a first step toward creating a much larger treatment system, with construction scheduled for 2001.

It will not remove perchlorates, a component of rocket fuel discovered in the ground water in 1997. Perchlorate also threatens to flow through the narrows but is farther upstream, said Burgess. Estimates for that cleanup reach $320 million.

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