A long debate over how much hexavalent chromium is too much in drinking water resurfaced last week as state health leaders produced the nation’s first drinking water standard.
Although the carcinogen has shown up in water wells throughout Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties in higher concentrations than most other places throughout the United States, the new standard suggests Modesto has little to worry about. Some wells in Patterson, Newman and Los Banos, however, have produced samples that would not meet maximum contaminant levels.
WATSONVILLE -- Watsonville officials say a proposed state regulation to tighten a drinking water standard would cost the city more than $26 million to install a treatment system and another $1.7 million each year for operations.
Consumer water bills would skyrocket 78 percent to cover the cost to meet the standard for the carcinogenic chromium 6 at eight of 12 municipal wells, according to city officials.
The City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday calling for the state to re-evaluate the cost versus benefit, and if the California Department of Public Health proposed regulation is adopted, to give cities additional time and funding to comply.
California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal would make a significant change to the state’s Safe Drinking Water Program. Last year, the Department of Public Health came under fire for failing to spend almost a half billion dollars to provide drinking water to communities that need it.
Under Brown’s budget proposal, the State Water Resources Control Board would run the program in the future. Jennifer Clary, with Clean Water Action, says she’s glad the program will be taken from the Department of Public Health.
Clary: “There, the drinking water program was a program, within the division under an agency in a department so it was such a lot of red tape to go through to accomplish things that we just got discouraged.”