California’s water quality regulations are among the strongest in the nation. From stringent limits on contaminants to rigorous requirements for testing and monitoring water quality, California has adopted an array of laws and regulations aimed at protecting public health.
Hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium 6, is the subject of significant developments at the state and federal levels. Though there are currently no existing or proposed drinking water standards for chromium 6, the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has proposed a public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion (20 parts per trillion). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and members of Congress have signaled their intent to focus on chromium 6 in drinking water.
Public Health Goals Guidance
ACWA’s 2013 guidance document is now available for use in preparing Public Health Goal (PHG) reports to satisfy requirements of California Health and Safety Code Section 116470(b).
Public water systems serving more than 10,000 service connections must prepare a brief, written report by July 1, 2010, that provides information on the “detection” of any contaminants above the PHGs published by the State Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). The report must also list the “detection” of any contaminant above the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for all other contaminants for which OEHHA has yet to establish a PHG.
Mandatory Minimum Penalties
ACWA sponsored legislation in 2010 to address high penalties imposed on water agencies for failing to report that they had no wastewater discharge violations.
Constituents of Emerging Concern
Water quality regulations have traditionally focused on pollutants from industry and a small number of naturally occurring contaminants. Recently, a diverse group of relatively unmonitored chemicals such as pharmaceuticals, personal care products and other trace organic chemicals has emerged as a new issue for regulators to address.
The State Water Resources Control Board adopted a Recycled Water Policy in 2009 that attempts to incorporate the most current science on constituents of emerging concern (CECs) into regulatory policies for use by various state agencies. As part of this policy, the Southern California Coastal Water Resources Project has convened a panel of six experts to provide recommendations to the State Board.