Gov. Edmund G. Brown on Friday signed legislation that allows water agencies throughout the state to submit compliance plans for chromium-6 treatment in order to avoid non-compliance. Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) worked with the bill's author, Senator Ben Hueso (District 40), and other lawmakers that include local co-authors Senator Jeff Stone and Assembly Members Eduardo Garcia and Chad Mayes to support this bill, which will ultimately allow CVWD to minimize compliance costs.
For the past several years, CVWD has performed extensive treatment tests and monitoring for chromium-6. And as a result of the new standard, the water district plans to treat about one-third of its wells. Treatment facilities are currently in the design phase with construction anticipated to start in summer of 2016.
"SB 385 will allow us to move forward in a sensible and cost-effective manner, while also keeping us on a timetable to bring new facilities online," CVWD General Manager Jim Barrett said. "We continue to provide our customers with high-quality tap water that can be used like it always has been."
California recently adopted Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for chromium-6, a mineral that occurs naturally in large portions of the Coachella Valley's groundwater aquifer. The level was set at 10 parts per billion (ppb) — an amount equivalent to about 10 drops in an average swimming pool. California is the first state to develop a regulation specifically for chromium-6.
The state is regulating Chromium-6 due to potential health impacts after many years of consumption at high levels, not for any immediate health risks. Customers can continue to use tap water for drinking, cooking, and all other needs.
The chromium-6 MCL will have wide-ranging impacts on district operations and infrastructure, and will result in CVWD's most costly project to date and significant construction throughout the district service area.
As a direct result of compliance costs, CVWD customers could see bills increase by about $30-$50 per month in coming years. Without SB 385, the district would have faced additional costs and possible fines from the state that would increase customer bills even further.
"The state's regulation did not provide water agencies time to install facilities needed to comply with the MCL. We're pleased that all of our local legislators supported the bill that gave us the time and mechanism necessary to maintain compliance and build treatment facilities that provide the best value to our customers," said Barrett. "And we thank the governor for signing the bill into law."
The district is reaching out to inform customers and is seeking input as it completes its compliance plan. For more information on chromium-6 and links to information from the state, visit www.cvwd.org/cr6.
To review CVWD's most recent water quality report visit www.cvwd.org/waterquality.
The Coachella Valley Water District is a public agency governed by a five-member board of directors. The district provides domestic and irrigation water, agricultural drainage, wastewater treatment and reclamation services, regional storm water protection, groundwater management and water conservation. It serves approximately 108,000 residential and business customers across 1,000 square miles, located primarily in Riverside County, but also in portions of Imperial and San Diego counties.