Community Water Center

Community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy

Former Health-Protective Limit on Carcinogen Under Review

Former Health-Protective Limit on Carcinogen Under Review

On Tuesday, August 1, 2017 the State Water Resources Control Board met to discuss the proposed resolution to delete the text of regulations establishing and implementing a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) on hexavalent chromium, a previously-regulated carcinogen. Following the Superior Court of Sacramento County’s May 31, 2017 decision to invalidate the prior MCL due to a “failure to properly consider economic feasibility,” the State Water Board was ordered to reconsider and adopt a new MCL after economic analysis. Though the ruling did not take a stance on whether or not the previously instated MCL was economically unfeasible, if it adequately protected public health, or what the MCL’s proper value should be, the State Water Board was left to return to the drawing board.


While the State Water Board disagreed with the court’s decision that the initial Maximum Contaminant Level was not well considered financially, it decided not to appeal the court’s decision. Instead, the board voted unanimously to suspend current enforcement while a new MCL is drafted, though it lauded the aggressive work of several water districts who had already begun treatment for the toxic compound.


During the public comment period, the Board listened to concerns from a diverse audience on everything from their public water system’s ability to afford new treatment mechanisms, to hosting meetings in Southern California to ensure community participation, to the consideration of consequences that a new MCL may have on small, poor, and aging communities that lack pre-existing infrastructure.


In the coming months, the Board will establish a new MCL for hexavalent chromium while taking into account the many constraints that communities, water districts, and stakeholders voiced in discussion of the new MCL.


CWC will be closely tracking the MCL establishment process for hexavalent chromium. If you’d like to get involved, please contact Debi Ores at 916-706-3346 or


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