Message from the State Water Resource Control Board:
The judge ordered the state to set a new treatment standard for Chromium-6 that takes into account the ability of low income communities to comply with state guidelines
On May 5, the Honorable Christopher E. Krueger of the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento struck down the State Water Resources Control Board’s water treatment guideline for Chromium-6, granting the position that the State Water Resource Control Board did not adequately examine the economic feasibility for communities to comply with the state’s treatment standard.
“This ruling buys us some time and could potentially make it less costly for us and our rate payers to comply with state guidelines,” said Bill Pattison, Coachella’s city manager.
In striking down California’s Chromium-6 guideline, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Christopher Krueger sided with the Solano County Taxpayers Association and the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, and ruled on May 5 that the state’s Chromium 6 standard must consider the ramifications of treatment both economically and affordability.
Federal standards allow total Chromium in drinking water at a maximum contaminant level of 100 parts per billion. California has previously required that drinking water not exceed Chromium 6 standard of 50 parts per billion, but the state revised its standard in 2014 and set a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of just 10 parts per billion, which is 10 times as strict as the current federal standard for total Chromium levels.
Court documents show that ratepayers in small (less than 1,000 connection), communities could see their water bills increase by hundreds of dollars a month if their water agency needs to purchase new equipment to comply with the stringent Chromium-6 guidelines.
Judge Krueger found that the state’s analysis of the economic impacts of treatment standard for Chromium-6 had not adequately addressed the impact to low income communities. Water agencies had previously been ordered to comply with the new standards for Chromium 6 by Jan. 1, 2020.
The judge ordered the state Department of Public Health to withdraw its current MCL and establish a new MCL for Chromium-6 that takes into account the economic feasibility of compliance and is as close to the Public Health Goal (PGH) of 0.02 parts per billion (ppb).
Additionally, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is expected to complete sometime this year its 5-year review of the Public Health Goal for Chromium 6. Its review was initiated late in 2016, with an abundance of new scientific research about health effects of Chromium 6. The most recent publicized activity on this was OEHHA’s extension of the comment period for this review until Dec. 13, 2016.
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