News Feature | May 20, 2014

'Erin Brockovich Regs' Near Finish Line In California

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

erinbreg

The nation's most stringent chromium-6 regulations are one step closer to hitting the books in California. 

The regulations aim to combat industrial chromium-6 contamination, an issue made famous by the film "Erin Brockovich," based on the life of an environmental activist.  

Regulators at California's Public Health Department submitted the new rules to the Office of Administrative Law in April. That means implementation will begin July 1, 2014 if they are approved as expected, according to an announcement from the state. 

The final regulation sets "a limit of 10 parts per billion in public drinking water supplies (equivalent to 10 drops of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool). This means it will be five times greater than a non-enforceable public health goal set earlier by the state EPA," Neon Tommy, the publication of the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, reported

Ron Chapman, California's top health regulator, framed the rules as industry-friendly as well as meaningful for the public health. “The drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium of 10 parts per billion will protect public health while taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility as required by law,” Chapman said.

The milestone follows months of debate about whether such rules are necessary and how they should be crafted. More than 18,000 comments were submitted in the rule-making process. 

Opponents said chromium-6 rules could raise the price of water. "Peter Nelson, a board member of the Coachella Valley Water District, predicted escalating water bills" as a result of the new rules, the Desert Sun reported

In some cities, the price is unlikely to rise. "Glendale won’t be impacted by the recommended cap on the cancer-causing contaminant because the city’s utility currently limits chromium 6 levels to 5 parts per billion by cleaning polluted water and blending it with expensive, but clean, imported water," the Glendale News-Press reported

For more policy news, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "Erin Brockovich Legal Eagle And Environmentalist Speaks At University of Sydney," Eva Rinaldi © 2012, used under an Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Erin_Brockovich.jpg

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