NEW CHROMIUM-6 STANDARDS MAY COST JOSHUA BASIN WATER DISTRICT AND TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT BIG MONEY

NEW CHROMIUM-6 STANDARDS MAY COST JOSHUA BASIN WATER DISTRICT AND TWENTYNINE PALMS WATER DISTRICT BIG MONEY

Chromium-6 is a cancer-causing chemical made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” Chromium-6 is a pollutant from chemical factories, but in the Morongo Basin, it occurs naturally, dissolving from rocks into the groundwater. Federal standards for total chromium, which includes chromium-6 and non-cancer-causing chromium-3, are 100 parts per billion. California standards for total chromium are 50 parts per billion, but as of July 1, California water districts may have to meet a lower standard of 10 parts per billion. Whether the water you drink meets this new standard depends on where you get it from. Hi-Desert Water District Operations Manager Mark Ban said Yucca Valley’s water has chromium-6 levels of only 1.6 parts per billion. Bighorn-Desert View Water Agency’s General Manager Marina West said last time their wells were tested, they showed 5 parts per billion. But Joshua Basin and Twentynine Palms Water Districts may have to start testing and treating their water supplies. Joshua Basin’s General Manager Kurt Sauer said total chromium levels in his agency’s five wells range from 12 to 26 parts per billion; Twentynine Palms Water Agency’s General Manager Tamara Alaniz said four of her water district’s nine wells have chromium-6 levels that are above the new limits, but all of them are less than 15 parts per billion. Both Sauer and Alaniz said the costs will be significant to test and treat the wells to lower the chromium-6 levels; Sauer estimated it could cost Joshua Basin up to $1 million just for the first year; Alaniz estimated it would cost 29 Palms $500,000 for testing and treating the water the first year, and subsequently several hundred thousand dollars per year. One method to lower chromium-6 levels would be by blending water from different wells together. According to Sauer, a water agency in northern California has challenged the new levels in court.

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