SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA GROUNDWATER REMEDIATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - September 28, 2004)
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Mr. BACA. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4606, the Southern California Groundwater Remediation Act.
First of all, I would like to thank our minority leader and our majority leader for supporting this bill. Our majority leader happened to go in the Inland Empire to see what is going on in that area, and I appreciate that.
The Southern California Groundwater Remediation Act is a long-term solution to helping cities in Southern California remove perchlorate from their drinking water. Perchlorate groundwater contamination has become a crisis in Southern California. This includes my hometown of Rialto in California.
Perchlorate is a main ingredient in rocket fuel. It has been found in drinking water supplies in 40 States, including California. It has been linked to thyroid damage and may be especially harmful to infants and developing fetuses and the 1.2 million women of childbearing age in San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties.
It is also harmful to those with weak immune systems, such as seniors and AIDS patients. There is a legal and moral obligation to provide safe and healthy water. Today, these obligations are in jeopardy. The hard-working families in these areas are not at fault and should not have to pay for these problems. We must protect the consumer. Southern California, and particularly the Inland Empire, has been greatly impacted by perchlorate. Perchlorate has been detected in 182 sources in the counties served by the Santa Ana River watershed.
There is a perchlorate plume in the Inland Empire in California that is 7 miles long. It has affected 20 wells in San Bernardino County and jeopardized the water supplies of 500,000 residents. The economic burden on these communities is almost as much of a concern as the potential health effects.
H.R. 4606 authorizes $50 million in much-needed assistance. It is modeled after a successful program in the San Gabriel Basin in southern California that has also suffered from perchlorate-polluted water. And it is similar to H.R. 4459, a bill introduced by the gentleman from California (Mr. Pombo) that deals with perchlorate in northern California and passed this House last week.
I urge my colleagues to support this urgent bill for southern California so we can tell these communities that help is on the way. I would like to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. Pombo), the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Rahall), the gentleman from California (Mr. Calvert), and the gentlewoman from California (Mrs. Napolitano) for their support of H.R. 4606 and for moving this legislation forward quickly.