By Kelly Ryan
WOODLAND (CBS13) — A number of local cities are showing higher than accepted levels of chromium in their drinking water, and now there’s a search for a solution.
You may have heard about chromium six from the movie “Erin Brockovich” where the main character helps residents sue because of the carcinogen found in their water supply. Residents are wondering why the issue is coming up in their community now.
“It’s in our ground and part of our groundwater,” said Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard. “it’s always been a part of our groundwater.”
Hexavalent chromium was found in 17 of 19 wells in Woodland at higher rates than state standards. It’s a naturally occurring substance in the western areas of the Sacramento Valley. With a new state standard, cities are now required to notify residents if they exceed it. Davis and Woodland residents have seen notices in their utility bills.
The state requirement is 10 parts per billion. Woodland’s levels have been tested and at 22 parts per billion. State officials say there’s no reason for concern in the short run.
“Why should we be threatening or causing any concern about any water source which you’ve been relying upon, in our case, for 100 years,” said Stallard.
Bruce Barton with the State Water Resources Control Board calls hexavalent chromium a chronic contaminant that has no immediate health danger. But, he adds, the less of it in the water, the less risk for people.
“We adopted our regulations after analysis and looking at all health effects,” he said.
Studies have shown it can lead to asthma and kidney damage, and in extreme cases, cancer.
Woodland and Davis were already planning to change their water source from wells to the Sacramento River, which doesn’t have high chromium levels. That plan is expected to be in place by next June.
In the meantime, the state standard is in place, frustrating city leaders like Stallard.
“I feel the standard lacks balance, is not realistic,” he said.
Many water agencies say they won’t be able to comply with the state standards right away, meaning residents will continue to see warnings on their utility bills.
Many water agency say they won’t be able to comply with state standards right away so that means residents will continue to see warnings in their utility bills.