By Michael YEGHIAYAN
With the conclusion of a citywide study, the Glendale Dept. of Water and Power is looking to take the next step to ensure the city’s drinking water is appropriately safe for its residents. The removal of the toxicant in question, chromium-6, is analyzed in the City of Glendale report and will affect future policy regarding water treatment.
The report, which focused on existing measures for removal of chromium-6, will not immediately impact the city’s water supply. By focusing on existing technologies and weighing their effectiveness in identifying and alleviating the problem, the study will serve as a benchmark for future courses of action.
The city’s report also identifies additional technologies that hold promise while analyzing some of the waste implications of the current processes.
“This report doesn’t directly affect consumers right now,” said Ramon Abueg, Glendale Water and Power’s chief assistant general manager of Electric and Water. “It demonstrates what technologies are available, and the cost level considerations in removing chromium-6.”
Chromium is an odorless and tasteless metallic element. An excessive amount of chromium in the water supply could cause skin ailments such as allergic dermatitis.
The previous standard, set in 2011, did not reflect a full understanding of the technology and the cost. The “maximum contaminant level,” or MCL, dictates the maximum level of chromium that can be present in drinking water without causing adverse health effects. A new MCL will be released in July which will clarify the next steps required by the city.
“The MCL is a factor [of] the effectiveness in the current technologies,” said Abueg. “We have to invest more, there is more research to be done.”
The federal standard, tied to the Safe Drinking Water Act, sets the MCL at 100 parts per billion. As it stands, the Glendale standard is already 10 times better than the level set by the state, and 20 times better than the federal benchmark. According to the EPA, federal regulation of chromium levels in drinking water and establishment of the MCL began in 1991.
The Glendale City Council took the initiative after the movie “Erin Brockovich” was released in 2000 and the public’s attention turned to the pollutant.
“Glendale looked to go above and beyond the federal and state standard,” remarked Abueg.
According to the California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) fact sheet, much of the low level chromium found in drinking water is naturally occurring. However, parts of California have been contaminated by industrial use of chemicals that have migrated into groundwater.