The City of Santa Monica shut down the Charnock well fields in 1996 after finding methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) and later trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,1-Dichloroethene (1,1-DCE) in the water. These potential carcinogens spread rapidly through the environment, resulting in the shutdown of all five (5) Charnock wells. Approximately 50% of the city's residential water was supplied through these wells.
Removal of these contaminants is typically difficult and costly. As a result, the city purchased approximately 85% of its domestic water from the Metropolitan Water District. Following the goal of self-sustainability, and with the rising cost of purchasing water, the city opted to treat the polluted groundwater supply. Black and Veatch Contractors were hired to rehabilitate the Charnock wells through a design-build project.