News Feature | August 16, 2017

California Drops Tough Chromium-6 Standard

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

After a taxpayer group challenged a drinking water standard in California, a state panel has decided to remove the rule.

At issue is the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium-6. Chromium-6 gained notoriety when it was targeted by famed environmentalist Erin Brockovich.

The State Water Resources Control Board announced this month that it has adopted a resolution to remove the MCL for chromium-6 after the Superior Court of Sacramento County invalidated the standard.

As a result, the MCL for chromium-6 in California will return to 50 ppb, according to the Daily Democrat. The federal standard is 100 ppb. Previously, the standard was 10 ppb in California.

The court said the state "failed to properly consider the economic feasibility of complying with the MCL." The state does not plan to appeal, according to a statement from the state board released this month.

The standard would have cost Vacaville $7.5 million, according to the Daily Republic.

“The challenge by the Solano County Taxpayers Association and the California Manufacturers & Technology Association led to the Sacramento County Superior Court ruling in May,” the report said.

Ourania Riddle of the taxpayers association had said in 2016, per the report: “As if the current challenges we’re facing with the water supply in California aren’t bad enough, along comes this unnecessary regulation, which will place steep cost burdens on taxpayers without a benefit to public health.”

Water advocates say the federal standard for chromium-6 is too lax.

“The EPA currently regulates chromium 6 as part of the total chromium drinking water standard. New health effects information has become available since the original standard was set, and EPA is reviewing this information to determine whether there are new health risks that need to be address,” the agency says.

A report by Environmental Working Group found that chromium-6 shows up in water systems across the country, according to TakePart.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.