State proposes nation's first chromium-6 water standard
Level is higher than level PG&E is required to attain in Hinkley
HINKLEY • A long-anticipated state drinking water standard was released Thursday, and it could impact how Hinkley residents perceive the levels of hexavalent chromium in their groundwater.
The California Department of Public Health proposed the maximum contaminant level for hexavalent chromium in drinking water to be 0.010-milligram per liter, or 10 parts per billion, according to a CDPH news release.
The new proposed standard is higher than the 3.1 ppb level Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has been ordered to attain in the groundwater in Hinkley.
Once finalized, the standard will not impact the target level in PG&E’s clean-up efforts, PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said. However, the company is hopeful the standard may change the requirements for their whole house water conversion systems and water bottle programs.
Currently, land owners affected by groundwater contamination have the choice of selling their property to PG&E, receiving a free purification system or receiving water bottles.
“We are hopeful the California Department of Public Health standard will prove to be a critical piece of information as the waterboard looks at future requirements for the whole house water conversion systems and water bottle program,” Smith said.
Smith said the announcement was a significant development and gives everyone an idea of what the standard will likely be once it’s finalized.
The federal maximum contaminant level is 100 ppb. Hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, may pose a risk of cancer when ingested. Chromium-3 is a necessary nutrient and is harmless, according to the release.
“California is the first and only state in the nation to establish a maximum contaminant level specifically for chromium-6 in drinking water,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, CDPH director and public health officer in the news release. “Establishing this new MCL underscores California’s commitment to safe drinking water standards to protect the public health.”
The proposed standard is also above the Public Health Goal for chromium-6, which is 0.02 ppb and was set by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in 2011. But the Public Health represents the “one in a million” lifetime cancer risk level, according to the OEHHA website.
The new CDPH proposal will be posted to the California Office of Administrative Law’s website on Friday, where written comments are encouraged. The CDPH will also seek public comment at meetings, according to the release.
Completion of the rulemaking process may take up to a year after the proposal. In the absence of any major delays, an enforceable maximum contaminant level is anticipated to be established in 2014, according to the CDPH website.
The proposed level is a fifth of the current state drinking water standard for total chromium at 50 ppb, which also includes chromium-3.
For more information about the state’s new chromium-6 standard proposal visit www.cdph.ca.gov.
Brooke Self can be reached at 760-951-6232 or BSelf@VVDailyPress.com. Jose Quintero can be reached at 760-256-4122 or JQuintero@DesertDispatch.com.