Investigators are testing wells to determine how high levels of perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, got into the region’s water supply. The crisis response has cost about $100,000 so far.

By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
November 24, 2010

State water officials launched an investigation Tuesday into how a chemical used in rocket fuel and munitions found its way into Barstow’s residential water supply, as costs to address the crisis mounted.

Lauri Kemper, assistant executive director of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, said, “We’ve got three teams of investigators sampling private wells in the area as part of an effort to get a sense of the extent of the contamination in the groundwater, and where it originated.”

“This is the first round of sampling and we hope to have results next week,” Kemper said. “If the problem occurs again, the city has supply wells to rely on.”

Test results from samples taken in August at the nearby Marine Corps Logistics Base showed high levels of perchlorate. Marine Corps officials received the results Nov. 9, and sent them back for verification, which came Thursday. The following day, authorities imposed an area-wide water ban, and the governor on Saturday declared a state of emergency for San Bernardino County.
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On Sunday the drinking-water ban was lifted for western half of the city. Late Tuesday, Golden State Water Co., the public water system that serves the high desert community of about 30,500, lifted the ban for the rest of the Barstow area, with the exception of the Veterans Home of California.

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