What is it?
Chromium-6 is a natural element that occurs in groundwater in the Coachella Valley and elsewhere due to the erosion of natural deposits. The chromium-6 found in this region is not from industrial pollution.
Is it harmful?
This mineral, also known as Cr6 and hexavalent chromium, has long been present in the water, but it wasn’t until recently that technology was developed that allowed detection of chromium-6 at minute levels. That was when state health officials began considering regulating chromium-6 to reduce any possible increased health risk to some people who drink the water over many years. There are no immediate health risks and your tap water is safe to drink, cook with and use.
Is there a state regulation for chromium-6?
In 2014, California became the first to enact a drinking water standard for chromium-6. That limit was 10 parts per billion (ppb) – an amount equivalent to about 10 drops in a swimming pool – and water districts were given until 2020 to comply. At that level, water from five of CWA’s wells would have required treatment to meet the standard.
The regulation was invalidated, however, in May 2017, when a judge ruled that the state failed to consider the financial ramifications of compliance. The State Water Resources Control Board is working on a new chromium-6 standard for drinking water.
Is there a federal standard for chromium-6?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a drinking water standard of 100 parts per billion for all forms of chromium, not just chromium-6.
What is CWA doing about chromium-6?
While the state develops a new standard, there is no regulation on chromium-6 in drinking water. Before the old limit was abandoned, the Water Authority was working to find the most effective and economical way to reduce chromium-6 in affected wells. Ion exchange technology was chosen and construction of treatment facilities is underway in anticipation of a new state standard.
Treatment technology is a costly investment. To lower the burden on our ratepayers, the Water Authority is pursuing all possible grant funding. The cost of ion exchange systems on the impacted well sites will range from $10 million to $16 million , and will require $2 million to $3 million per year for operations and maintenance, which will affect water rates.
Where can I find more information on the quality of my water?
The Water Authority reports the results of sampling for chromium-6 and other contaminants in its Annual Water Quality Update and Consumer Confidence Report. The 2017 Report can be found HERE.
Please call customer service at (760) 501-8100 with additional questions regarding your water quality.
More information can be found on the CalEPA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) here.