Letter of the Week: Arcata demands state clean up possible toxic threat to drinking water

February 24, 2021

Ms. Cheryl L. Prowell
Department of Toxics Substances Control 700 Heinz Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94710

Re: McNamara & Peepe Lumber Mill Soil and Groundwater Monitoring and Cleanup – Humboldt County

Dear Ms. Prowell,

The City of Arcata is a wholesale water customer of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD). We have been monitoring the situation and correspondence between DTSC and HBMWD concerning the above-referenced contaminated site. 

Our municipality serves 18,400 residential and commercial water customers within our service area. Consequently, we are extremely concerned about the former McNamara & Peepe Lumber Mill site, particularly because DTSC issued an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment (ISE) Determination for the site in April, 2008, and it appears that little progress has been made since then to remediate the contamination. 

The importance of this matter cannot be overstated. The site is located directly adjacent to the Mad River, upstream and within close proximity to HBMWD’s Raney wells which supply drinking water to all of our customers and to two-thirds of the residents of Humboldt County.

We understand that budgets are limited. However, we encourage DTSC and the State to redouble its efforts to immediately identify and utilize all available funding sources to clean up the former McNamara and Peepe site to prevent contamination of our drinking water source – the Mad River. 

We understand that DTSC has proposed to spend only $30,000 in its current year’s budget for this site and that those monies would be spent only on investigation activities. 

In December, 2018, DTSC made a finding that “soil and groundwater contamination at the site is not under control and the implemented remedial actions (from 1998) are no longer protective of human health and the environment.” 

Accordingly, we urge DTSC to commit no less than $200,000 for this site this budget year to immediately advance its investigation and cleanup efforts to protect our drinking water source.

Please make immediate remediation of this site its top priority.


Sofia Pereira, Mayor City of Arcata

Cc: Senator Mike McGuire; 

Assemblyman Jim Woods


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