Toxin forces 40,000 to use bottled water
Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/20/2010 09:49:14 PM PST

BARSTOW – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Saturday that providing drinking water to 40,000 residents whose drinking water may be dangerously contaminated was too much for local agencies to fully handle, prompting him to declare a state of emergency.

Golden State Water Co., which provides water to Barstow and surrounding areas, is distributing tens of thousands of bottles of water after discovering on Thursday that some wells contained levels of perchlorate – a chemical found in munitions, fireworks and rocket fuel that damages the thyroid – far above the state maximum.

The company quickly posted a notice on its website and began contacting customers to tell them not to drink or cook with the water.

On Saturday, the company distributed bottled water at four locations and began flushing any water that might be contaminated from the region’s system.

Volunteers were bringing water to people who were unable to make it to the distribution centers.

“Our community is really coming together in a bad situation,” said Mark Murphy, Barstow’s emergency operations manager. “Red Cross, Tyson – they’re a food service company – Stater Bros., pretty much anyone who has bottled water and a big warehouse has been helpful about this.”

Murphy added that he appreciated the governor’s attention, which so far amounts mostly to cutting red tape.

The nearby Marine Corps Logistics Base discovered on Thursday that its perchlorate levels exceeded 6 parts per billion, the level the state considers safe.

Golden State Water then tested all 20 of its wells in the area, according to spokesman John Dewey.

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