The Mar Vista Historical Society held its first public lecture on June 15, 2005 at the Venice branch library. Mar Vista historian and storyteller Glen Howell regaled a rapt audience, which filled the Community Room with stories and data about the history of the Mar Vista water wells.

The water wells, located near Charnock and Sawtelle Blvd, made national headlines in 1996 as the first to have been found contaminated by the carcinogenic gasoline cleaning substance MTBE stored in filling station tanks. The highly water-soluble chemical leaked from the tanks and pipes into the underground Ballona aquifer.

Howell researched the complicated relationships in Los Angeles from the early days before the Europeans arrived. He told about the rivers and wells, a bit about the ranchos, and the dollar seekers who saw the profit in creating water companies. The water sources beyond Los Angeles and under Los Angeles beckoned those out to make their fortunes. High drama!

(The answer to the question posed is: No one is drinking the water today. Stay tuned, Glen will keep his detective skills at the ready for the further adventures of water and Mar Vista.)

EPA: Charnock MTBE Cleanup Project

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