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Rep. Napolitano Calls for Expanded Research, Funding for Local Groundwater Cleanup at La Verne Water Conference

January 26, 2012
Press Release

Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano addressed the University of La Verne’s annual Water Technology Conference, discussing local water issues and the importance of research and development for finding new sources of water.

“The topic of this conference – ‘Water Technology and Innovation’ – could not have come at a more appropriate time,” Napolitano said. “Our water supply faces increasing strains from climate change and a growing population. As we begin to explore new ways to provide clean water, like water recycling and desalination, the research done by our scientists and researchers will be more important than ever.”

Napolitano also addressed the need to fund the San Gabriel Restoration Fund, which prevents contamination from spreading into drinking water in the San Gabriel and Central Basins.

“Funding for the San Gabriel Restoration Fund, which prevents contamination from spreading into our underground aquifers, has been cut, even as groundwater contamination threatens the health and safety of our communities. On behalf of the 3 million people who get their drinking water from the San Gabriel and Central Basins, I urge the Republican leadership in Congress to help us find the necessary funding to protect this critical source of groundwater.”

Background:

•           The Society of Civil Engineers estimates that $9.4 billion more in funding per year will be needed for water and sewer work between now and 2020.

•           The Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI (water recycling) projects have produced an estimated 260,000 acre-feet of water in 2010. 

Desalination Research Act

•           Rep. Napolitano authored the Desalination Act of 2011, which was signed into law as part of a larger year-end funding bill in December 2011. 

•           The bill reauthorizes the Desalination Act of 1996, providing $3 million per year through 2013 to research and improve water desalination processes.

•           Desalination Projects and studies have been funded in more than half of the 50 states, with 38 projects being funded in California alone.

•           If desalination can be perfected and made cheaper, it may help us tap the ocean and brackish aquifers as a reliable source of potable water.

•           An October 2011 New York Times article found that China, as it did with solar panels and wind turbines, is aiming to become a force in yet another budding environment-related industry: supplying the world with fresh water.

The San Gabriel Restoration Fund

•           Funding for key national water programs, as well as local programs like the San Gabriel Valley Restoration Fund, was not renewed this year due to changes made by the Republican leadership in Congress.

•           The program saw its funding cut because of the Republican leadership’s ban on targeted investments from Members of Congress. In previous years, local members of Congress were able to work together to secure the necessary funding.

•           California pumps roughly 30% of its drinking water from groundwater sources.

•           The San Gabriel and Central Basins serve as the primary source of drinking water for 3 million people.

•           Funding for the San Gabriel Valley Restoration Fund has been eliminated, removing the last line of defense against migrating groundwater contamination that has affected the San Gabriel Basin for over 35 years.

•           This cleanup Superfund site, size of Rhode Island, has treated over 24,000 acre feet of contaminated groundwater, helped fund the construction of 24 treatment facilities, and removed approximately 200 pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that were polluting the water.

•           At least another decade of work will be necessary to cleanup contamination.

•           Levels of contamination have drastically increased, with costs estimated at over $1.2 billion; $345 million for construction and $901 million operations and maintenance.

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