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County Suspends Ocean Water Testing

Ocean water quality testing at 58 locations in San Diego County has been suspended. County officials say the suspension is a direct result of a veto by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. KPBS Environmen

County Suspends Ocean Water Testing

Ocean water quality testing at 58 locations in San Diego County has been suspended. County officials say the suspension is a direct result of a veto by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The veto means the county won't get the money that funded the water monitoring.

The chief of land and water quality for the County Department of Environmental Health is Mark McPherson.

McPherson says without the state funds, the DEH can't continue the weekly testing of ocean water from the Mexican border to San Onofre.

McPherson : It pays for the two staff persons that we have, and the laboratory analysis that we do at the 58 weekly locations.

The state funding started in 1999. It pays for testing from April through October each year.  

McPherson says the agency also used the money to coordinate sampling at 46 other county locations.

H.D. Palmer is the deputy director of the State Department of Finance.

He says the program was one of many vetoed by the Governor to create a budget reserve.  

The reserve has been the main source of funds used to pay for firefighting costs.

Palmer: The veto in this program represents one of literally dozens of very difficult but necessary decisions to build up our reserve to ensure that we've got sufficient funds this year to be able to combat wildfires. It is not a veto that should be construed in any way, shape or form to say that this is not a valuable program or that water quality at county beaches is not an important issue, it is.

He says the dollar amount of all the Governor's general fund vetoes this week is $510 million.  

Palmer says during the last fiscal year, the state spent $524 million to fight wildfires - and much of that money came from the budget reserve.

McPherson says the county is now looking at other ways to fund the program.

In the meantime, he says the testing is ending a month earlier than expected.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

 

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