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Money for local perchlorate not likely

• Lobbyists tell water agency that race for president dominates D.C.

Posted: May 15, 2008 1:34 a.m.
Updated: July 16, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Lobbyists hired by the Castaic Lake Water Agency foresee a tough time getting funds to clean up perchlorate in Santa Clarita groundwater as long as the Democratic nomination race dominates the political scene in Washington.

A report filed Tuesday night by Harry Henderson of Anchor Consulting LLC, at a meeting of the agency's Government Relations and Outreach Committee, warns that any legislative action regarding requests for funding such things as perchlorate cleanup and water recycling won't likely happen until the fall.

"Few, if any, legislative vehicles will be considered in the next few months," Henderson noted in his report. "Given the tight race for the Democratic nomination and the fact that every member of the House Democratic caucus is a superdelegate, it is likely that political issues will dominate through the convention process pushing legislative action until fall."

The Virgina-based consulting firm, led locally by lobbyist Scott Wilk, has set its sights on two funding requests - perchlorate remediation and a reclaimed water/recycled water program.

The firm's hope is to elicit $3.5 million for the Eastern Santa Clara River Basin Remediation Program, seeking out potential supporters of the cause whom they've identified as U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon and senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

They've targeted money that will hopefully be made available through the Energy and Water Appropriations Act for the fiscal year 2009 and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Anchor also hopes to obtain through its lobbying efforts $1.5 million for the agency's Wastewater Treatment Program.
Champions named in the push for those funds are, again, California senators Feinstein and Boxer.

Money to help with any local recycled water program is likely to come from the Interior Appropriations Act fiscal years 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency and the STAG account, according to the Anchor report.

So far this year, the consulting firm has courted McKeon and both senators about each of the agency's two projects.

According to Henderson, McKeon has again submitted the Eastern Santa Clara River Basin Remediation program to the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee for consideration.

The lobbyist alerted the agency committee members Tuesday, however, that McKeon would not likely be submitting the Recycled Water Initiative for consideration, assuring members that the firm has worked closely with the congressman's office to ensure the recycled program remains a priority.

Wilk previously worked as McKeon's district director, providing the congressman with information and analysis of policy issues.

Perchlorates are the salts derived from perchloric acid. They are feared by many to be harmful for human consumption. Although they occur naturally, perchlorates were also left in the ground from the manufacturing of rocket fuel and explosives in central parts of Santa Clarita.

The agency has been working to remove the substance from groundwater.

A week ago, an EPA official told a Senate hearing in Washington that the EPA would not likely take action to rid drinking water of perchlorate, acknowledging however that the substance is widespread and poses health risks.


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