City of Los Banos Becomes Part of a Pilot Program Addressing Chromium 6 Water Contamination

On February 17, 2021, the Los Banos City Council passed Resolution No. 6324 - Approving the pilot study agreement for hexavalent chromium treatment with Aqua Metrology Systems Limited which authorizes the City Manager to execute said agreement. Aqua Metrology Systems Limited would pay for the majority of the cost of the pilot study, with limited staffing expenses being paid by the City.

The decision to address the Chromium 6 problem in Los Banos drinking water is a voluntary one. There is no federal or state standard that Los Banos is not in compliance with. The federal regulation is 100 parts per billion and California has a standard of 50 parts per billion. On July 1, 2014 the Department of Drinking Water (DDW) raised the standard to 10 parts per billion, at which point the City of Los Banos became out of compliance. The City drafted the Plan of Correction in 2015, which was then signed by the Governor and put the City on track to become compliant by March 1, 2025. However, in May 2017 the Superior Court of Sacramento County issued a judgement that invalidated the hexavalent chromium maximum contaminant level (MCL). The court ordered the State Water Resources Control Board to delete the hexavalent chromium MCL from the California Code of Regulations. Invalidation of the MCL became effective on September 11, 2017. Since then the DDW has indicated that it will re-issue another regulation of MCL, but there is no way of knowing if it will be higher or lower than the previous standard of 10 parts per billion.

In anticipation of new regulation, the City is partnering with Aqua Metrology Systems Limited in order to hopefully remain in compliance with regulation once that regulation is enacted. Unfortunately since there is no way of knowing, if the regulation becomes more strict that what is feasible than the City will have wasted money on the technology, and if the standard is much less stringent than before, the City will have wasted money over correcting a problem.

Where did Chromium 6 come from and why do we care?

Numerous studies have been conducted and it has been repeatedly verified that the origin of the chromium 6 in our drinking water is due to natural underground formations, and our environment. There is no evidence that the source is human. You can learn more about the studies done by clicking here.

Chromium 6 when inhaled can lead to lung cancer and seriously irritate the skin. It is believed to cause stomach cancer and other kinds of cancer when consumed via water. In 1996 residents of the town of Hinckley California received a settlement for PG&E for $333 Million dollars, which was the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history. PG&E later paid nearly as much to settle additional chromium-6-related claims in other California communities. This law suit inspired the movie titled "Erin Brockovich" starring Julia Roberts.

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