Regulatory Perspective on Ground Water Pollution Cleanup in the Santa Clara Valley

by Steven R. Ritchie, California Regional Water Quality, Control Board, San Francisco, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Supplying Water and Saving the Environment for Six Billion People


The Santa Clara Valley is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay and serves as the home of approximately 1.2 million people. Approximately 40% of the Valley's water supply comes from local precipitation with the remainder being imported water via the South Bay Aqueduct and the Hetch Hetchy (San Francisco) system. Much of the water, both local and imported, is percolated into the groundwater basin for storage and later use. Institutionally, there are numerous water retail agencies in the Valley. Overall management of the groundwater basin is provided by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the water wholesaler for the Valley. The last eight years in the Valley have been spent in investigation, assessing, and cleaning up groundwater contamination by solvents due to past practices. It has been quite difficult at times because this was a brand new program when it first began in 1981. Some mistakes have been made, but overall the program is one that has and will continue to serve the public interest. This success has been due to the general agreement and cooperation at times between the involved parties: the Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board), the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board), the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD), the U.S. Environmental protection Agency (EPA), and a variety of local cities and private companies.

Subject Headings: Groundwater pollution | Water pollution | Water resources | Water quality | Water supply | Bays | Water storage | Basins | California | United States

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