Community Water Center

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

PRESS RELEASE: State Votes to Protect Californians From Carcinogen, TCP




For immediate release:

July 18, 2017


Matt Davis, Clean Water Action,, (510) 717-1617

Jenny Rempel, Community Water Center,, 559-284-6327


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Sacramento, CA, July 18, 2017) — Today the State Water Resources Control Board voted to create a new legal limit, or maximum contaminant level (MCL), on 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), a man-made, carcinogenic drinking water contaminant found across the state. The standard was set at the legal detection limit, the lowest level at which TCP can be detected in drinking water based on current technology, which is five parts per trillion (ppt).

Most TCP contamination stems from the extensive application of pesticides containing TCP that were manufactured by Shell Oil and Dow Chemical Company prior to the 1990s. Despite the companies’ knowledge of the health risks, they failed to remove the ingredient from their products or notify farmers and communities of the known health risks.

“This new health-protective regulation for 1,2,3-TCP is a victory for all the Californians who spoke out and fought for today’s result, seeking to secure for themselves and their families what most of us have the luxury of taking for granted -- the basic human right to safe drinking water,” said Jonathan Nelson, Policy Director for Community Water Center, which is headquartered in Visalia, California. “We look forward to building on this momentum to continue addressing California’s broader drinking water crisis.”

“Five parts per trillion is the most health-protective standard possible,” said Clean Water Action Toxics Program Manager Andria Ventura. “Setting the standard at this level shows that California will lead in protecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who currently drink water contaminated by TCP, and who have had to live with the anxiety caused by this contamination ever since Dow and Shell neglected to remove the chemical from their products, to protect their profits. Now comes the work on holding the responsible parties accountable as water agencies work to comply with this rule.”

“We applaud this important step to protect Californians impacted by 123 TCP. The challenge that remains, however, is securing the funds and resources necessary to help impacted communities and residents gain access to treatment mechanisms,” said Phoebe Seaton, Co-Director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability. “We look forward to working with the State Water Board and other drinking water stakeholders to ensure we are addressing the drinking water needs of impacted rural, low-income communities that are often hit hardest by 1,2,3-TCP and other contaminants.”

"Despite the best efforts of chemical manufacturers to scare water regulators, the State Water Board stood up and approved new protections for communities across California from the cancer-causing drinking water contaminant 1,2,3-TCP,"  said Paul Towers, Organizing Director & Policy Advocate at Pesticide Action Network (PAN). "Regulators can now turn their attention to the important work of cleaning up the decades-old contaminated drinking water in poor communities of color." 

Notes to editors:

TCP is a toxic, man-made chemical contaminating at least 94 public drinking water systems across California, including Fresno, Bakersfield, Tulare, and many other Central Valley communities. The State of California declared TCP a carcinogen over 15 years ago, but prior to the July 18 ruling, TCP remained unregulated and untreated because it lacked a drinking water standard, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).

Some public water systems have already received payment through cost-recovery litigation against Shell Oil and Dow Chemical Company, but many are waiting until the drinking water standard to be implemented to settle their lawsuits and begin treatment for this toxin. 


COMMUNITY WATER CENTER (CWC) is a nonprofit environmental justice organization based in California’s San Joaquin Valley, whose mission is to act as a catalyst for community-driven water solutions through organizing, education, and advocacy. CWC’s fundamental goal is to ensure that all communities have access to safe, clean, and affordable water. CWC helps build strategic grassroots capacity to address water challenges in small, rural, low-income communities and communities of color. For more information, visit CWC’s website at and follow us on Twitter at @CWaterC.

CLEAN WATER ACTION Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. The organization has 50,000 members in California. Visit the website at and follow on Twitter at @cleanh2oactionca.

PAN NORTH AMERICA is one of five regional centers worldwide. We link local and international consumer, labor, health, environment and agriculture groups into an international citizens’ action network. Together, we challenge the global proliferation of pesticides, defend basic rights to health and environmental quality, and work to ensure the transition to a just and viable food system. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @pesticideaction. Contact: Paul Towers,, 916-216-1082






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