The U.S. EPA announced the addition of the Orange County North Basin Site to the National Priorities List (NPL), or the Superfund List.
The Orange County North Basin Site includes parts of Anaheim, Fullerton and Placentia, and is part of the larger Orange County Groundwater Basin managed by the Orange County Water District, according to the EPA.
The basin site provides up to 77% of the water for 2.5 million residents in north and central Orange County.
“OCWD commends the EPA for taking this critical step forward to ensure the continued safety and reliability of our local groundwater,” said OCWD President Vicente Sarmiento. “This action falls within EPA’s core function of enforcement and compliance with the nation’s environmental laws and it will work with companies responsible for the contamination to clean it up instead of passing these costs on to ratepayers.”
The Orange County North Basin Site includes a groundwater plume, which contains contamination from legacy industrial chemicals. In turn, this contamination has caused the closure of four city drinking water wells.
In October 2016, OCWD and EPA entered into an administrative agreement to determine the extent of the groundwater contamination in the North Basin and to come up with possible solutions, according to the EPA press release.
By August 2017, the North Basin was granted $1.7 million to assist with development of a remedial study. So far, OCWD has taken several actions to proactively address the contamination, including collecting geologic and groundwater quality information. This information was used to develop a computer groundwater model that could evaluate different options to keep the contamination from spreading.
According to the EPA, these studies included the installation of approximately 100 monitoring wells and the collection and analysis of thousands of groundwater samples.
“Since 1933, through sound planning and appropriate investment, the District has demonstrated our commitment to keep our water supply safe and reliable for the residents and businesses we serve and we will continue to do so,” Sarmiento said.