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Governor declares state of emergency in San Bernardino County

November 20, 2010 |  3:27 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a state of emergency Saturday for San Bernardino County, where the water supply for the city of Barstow is contaminated.

The proclamation comes a day after residents of the desert town were told of the contamination by Golden State Water Co., which serves Barstow and nearby unincorporated areas.

More than 40,000 customers are without drinking water, according to the governor's proclamation. Company spokesman John Dewey said in a statement that they began advising residents after the company was notified on Thursday by personnel at the Marine Corps' Nebo Supply Base that samples taken from the base's water distribution system showed levels of perchlorate above the maximum contaminant level. Dewey said the company took samples of water and test results on Friday confirmed that the levels of the chemical exceeded standards.

Perchlorate is a chemical often used in solid rocket propellant, fireworks, explosives and flares.

Dewey said three wells out of 20 in the company's Barstow system had high levels of perchlorate. At least one of the three wells was operational, but has been shut down since the discovery.

The company plans to distribute more than 100,000 bottles of water to customers in Barstow, while the system is flushed out and tested once again, Dewey said.

-- Ruben Vives