Today, the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved legislation introduced by Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) that calls for a government based study of perhclorate contamination in the Inland Empire. H.R. 200, the Inland Empire Perchlorate Ground Water Plume Assessment Act, directs the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of water resources and perchlorate contamination in the Inland Empire, specifically ordering the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct a study of the Rialto-Colton water basin focused on the perchlorate contaminated plume in Rialto.
"Many families in the Inland Empire are concerned about the quality and safety of the water they drink," said Rep. Baca. "My legislation calls for a much-needed USGS study of the Rialto-Colton water basin in order to find the best possible solutions to cleaning up the perchlorate contamination in our area. I thank Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings and Ranking Member Ed Markey, for working with me to move this legislation forward. Every American deserves access to clean, safe drinking water, and my bill helps to safeguard this essential right for Inland residents."
Perchlorate, a rocket fuel additive, has been found to be present at trace levels in some Inland communities. Perchlorate is a volatile organic compound that has been found to be harmful to humans as it interferes with thyroid functions. As the nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency, the USGS collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. The diversity of their scientific expertise enables them to carry out large-scale, multi-disciplinary investigations and provide impartial scientific information to resource mangers, planners, and other customers.
In September of this year, the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing to examine the merits of Rep. Baca's legislation. In addition to sponsoring H.R. 200, Rep. Baca has reached out to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in an effort to move forward with an administrative study of contamination in the Rialto-Colton basin.
"If left alone, the perchlorate contaminated plume in Rialto could continue to travel underground -- contaminating more wells and compromising the health of more Southern California communities," concluded Rep. Baca. "By providing concrete research from the USGS on the Rialto-Colton water basin, my bill moves us one step closer to finding a realistic solution to our area's perchlorate problem."
H.R. 200 now awaits a vote on final passage before the entire House of Representatives. Once the bill is passed by the full House, it will then move to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Similar legislation introduced by Rep. Baca last Congress, H.R. 4252, was unanimously approved by the House, and reported out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The bill did not come to the floor of the Senate before the 111th Congress came to an end.