The City Attorney’s Office is expected to receive an award today from the American Bar Association for its work in securing over $300 million from major oil companies that were responsible for allowing a toxic fuel additive to seep into the city’s drinking water supply, forcing the closure of local wells.

The Jefferson Fordham Law Office Accomplishment Award for State and Local Governmental Law Offices was established to recognize and honor the accomplishments of those active nationwide in the varied areas of state and local government law.

The award will be presented at the association’s annual meeting in San Francisco today by the ABA’s Section on State and Local Government Law.

“We are all honored by the award and the recognition of the good work done by members of the office. We are even more honored to be able to serve the public and this special city every day,” said City Attorney Marsha Moutrie.

The ABA noted that the City Attorney’s Office, “has been uniquely instrumental and successful in focusing state and national attention on the threat posed by MtBE contamination of drinking water supplies and establishing regulatory standards and ultimately getting MtBE banned as a gasoline additive, while at the same time handling an unusually diverse set of other legal issues for the city of Santa Monica.”

Altogether, through the efforts of the City Attorney’s Office and other city departments, City Hall will have recovered approximately $325 million from the MtBE and the PCE/TCE contamination settlements. Those responsible will have been held accountable and the public will have regained use of a priceless natural resource — drinking water — with the costs being appropriately borne by polluters and not the public.

As also noted by the ABA, the achievements of the City Attorney’s Office “whether in obtaining remarkable recoveries for drinking water contamination or in its other significant accomplishments represent truly outstanding governmental law office performance.”

The City Attorney’s Office, led by Moutrie, consists of 43 employees, 24 of whom are attorneys. The office provides a broad array of legal services to City Hall.

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