CA gov signs ACWA-sponsored bill aiding compliance with chromium-6 standard

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law legislation that would aid compliance with the state's new drinking water standard for chromium-6. The measure, which is sponsored by the Association of California Water Agencies, takes effect immediately.

SACRAMENTO, CA, Sept. 9, 2015 -- California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law legislation that would aid compliance with the state's new drinking water standard for chromium-6. The measure, which is sponsored by the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and has advanced through the Legislature without a single "no" vote, takes effect immediately.

"SB 385" by Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) establishes a carefully monitored process for public water systems to work toward and achieve compliance with the chromium-6 standard. It authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to grant a limited period of time for affected water systems to work toward achieving compliance without being deemed in violation as long as strict safeguards are met.

ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn said SB 385 addresses a key challenge presented by the state's chromium-6 drinking water standard, which is the first such standard adopted in the nation.

"For California's public water systems, delivering water that meets or surpasses all state and federal drinking water standards is job one," Quinn said. "Many systems affected by the chromium-6 standard need to take a series of complex steps to comply, including designing, financing and constructing treatment facilities. SB 385 provides a path for water systems to take those steps and achieve compliance by the earliest feasible date."

The measure does not exempt any water systems from compliance or delay steps a water system must take to achieve compliance. The SWRCB oversees the state's drinking water program and is responsible for enforcing the chromium-6 standard. The author and ACWA worked with the Legislature, Board staff and environmental organizations in the development of the bill. Both the Senate and the Assembly and all four policy committees that heard the bill passed it with bipartisan, unanimous votes.

California's drinking water standard for chromium-6 took effect on July 1, 2014. The first of its kind in the nation, California's standard established a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for chromium-6 in drinking water. Chromium-6 is a mineral that can occur naturally in the environment or be introduced from industrial activities such as corrosion control or metal plating.

For some public water systems, construction of extensive new treatment facilities is needed to comply with the chromium-6 MCL. The steps involved -- from designing appropriate treatment systems to securing financing to building and testing new treatment facilities -- can take up to five years or more and can cost water customers millions of dollars.

See also:

"Agency proposes nation's first standard for hexavalent chromium"

"Cal Water awarded grants for chromium-6 research, treatment in Willows District"

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