Olin will halt deliveries if wells are below detection level
Olin Corp. got good news and bad news last week when the regional water board ruled it will no longer have to provide free, non-contaminated water to some well owners whose water shows low perchlorate contamination.

However, the state Water Resources Water Board, the regional board’s parent agency, told the company it was denying its request for a stay on providing free water to residents of all polluted wells and on its cleanup of the Olin site on Tennant Avenue.

Olin had asked for the stay until the Water Board makes a formal decision on the request, expected in about a year.

The company had asked to stop delivery of free bottled water to residents on 145 private wells that have tested non-detect – or below 4 parts per billion – for perchlorate for four consecutive quarters.

Roger W. Briggs, executive officer of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the lead agency on the South Valley perchlorate cleanup, said the request was reasonable.

“Based upon my review, these 145 wells meet the criteria for cessation of uninterrupted water service,” Briggs said in a letter to Olin dated Sept. 21.

The 145 wells must continue to be tested semi-annually during the next three years, then annually for two more years. If there is no sign of perchlorate, then Olin can stop testing. If the chemical is detected again, Olin must resume the alternative water supply.

Olin will continue to provide water to residents on wells that show perchlorate levels above 4 ppb.

Perchlorate in Morgan Hill wells north of Olin’s Tennant Avenue site and Olin’s refusal to accept responsibility for the contamination is causing city residents to pay a perchlorate surcharge on their water bills.

While the surcharge has been 5 percent since April, by January it will have risen to 10 percent.

Morgan Hill’s costs for dealing with perchlorate in city wells are nearing $4 million; Olin will soon have reimbursed the city $780,000 to replace Tennant, the one well it accepts responsibility for.

The city hopes to eventually get reimbursed for digging the new Butterfield well to the tune of $600,000 but, said Jim Ashcraft, public works director, it’s only a hope. Olin has not agreed to that.

Until the city can prove that the northern perchlorate comes from Olin’s site, the city and its ratepayers will have to cover the costs, Dilles said.

The council has promised to refund the surcharge to ratepayers when and if Olin reimburses the city.

Copies of all reports from Olin Corp. and agency responses are available at the Morgan Hill Library, 17555 Peak Ave. at West Main Avenue. 779-3196. Reports are online at www.valleywater.org and www.swrcb.ca.gov/rwqcb3/

Carol Holzgrafe covers City Hall for The Times. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or phoning (408) 779-4106 Ext. 201.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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