Community Water Center

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Pages tagged "MCL"

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


Private Well Testing

Community Water Center completed its private well testing program in May 2016. This program provided free water quality testing to private well owners in Tulare, Fresno, and Kern counties. The goal of the program was to provide residents with an understanding of their water quality and resources related to accessing safe drinking water. Our team sampled 32 private wells to analyze water quality. We also provided educational materials about the test results and resources about how to obtain safe drinking water (link to water quality results).
Wells were tested for seven priority contaminants:
  • Total coliform bacteria
  • E. coli
  • Nitrate
  • Dibromochloropropane (DBCP)
  • 1,2,3, Trichloropropane (TCP)
  • Hexavalent Chromium
  • Arsenic
  • Uranium
  1. CWC staff collected samples using a uniform structure after completing  a training and certification course through BSK Labs in Fresno. We informed private well owners  of the possible contaminants that would be tested for in their water as well as the program’s broader goals of ensuring residents have access to safe, affordable water. After conducting rounds of outreach, interested private well owners  were  scheduled in a sampling schedule.

  2. CWC employees collected water samples using the HI-991300 pH/conductivity tester for well purging protocol so that samples were drawn from groundwater sources rather than storage tanks. Samples were taken toBC Laboratories in Bakersfield, CA.

  3. Once we received the laboratory results, follow-up packets were customized for each participant based on their water quality results. Contaminant fact sheets, a letter of results, drought resource sheets, and other educational materials were tailored for each home in English and Spanish. In addition to materials about contaminants, certified water filters, and bottled water options, we also provided information to residents about drought resources, our work toward regional long-term water solutions, and other resources related to accessing safe drinking water. A follow-up visit was scheduled for each resident where CWC staff communicated the results and discussed next steps.

  4. Data collected through this program was uploaded to the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) GeoTracker Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Unit (GAMA) online database. Data uploaded to Geotracker GAMA is publicly accessible.

Many wells that were tested exceeded the legal limit for at least one contaminant (see below for actual results). Multiple wells exceeded maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for Nitrate and bacteria, and many exceeded public health goals for 1,2,3-TCP, Hexavalent Chromium, Arsenic, and Uranium.
While our testing revealed unfortunate results of disproportionate water contamination in Central Valley private wells, there were many positive outcomes of the project. Most importantly, residents learned about their water quality and are now able to make decisions about their water needs. Furthermore, the data collected can serve as an example and resource for other organizations.
Additional Resources:


Protecting Californians from Cancer-Causing Water Contaminant “1,2,3-TCP”

We’re thrilled that State Water Board staff just announced their preliminary recommendation to set the most health-protective legal limit for the pesticide byproduct 1,2,3-TCP in drinking water! CWC's 1,2,3-TCP campaign team has been advocating and educating residents tirelessly to ensure the new drinking water standard adequately protects public health, so we were very enthusiastic to hear that the Board is prioritizing setting a drinking water standard that will help protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians who currently drink water contaminated by the dangerous carcinogen 1,2,3-TCP.

BUT we need your help to make sure the Board adopts this recommendation and not a weaker standard. Please take action by telling the State Water Board you support their preliminary recommendation of the most health protective drinking water standard for TCP -- 5 parts per trillion!


CWC staff and residents from the San Joaquin Valley showed up at the Board’s first public workshops in Sacramento, Bakersfield, and Fresno, and spoke in strong support of setting the MCL for 1,2,3-TCP at 5 ppt to protect community health.

At the Sacramento meeting, CWC's Asha Kreiling testified in strong support of the board's preliminary recommendation of 5 ppt and reminded the Board of the impacts and concerns faced by small, rural communities in the Valley dealing with this cancer-causing contaminant. She urged Board members to ensure that the MCL they adopt next year is ultimately set at 5 ppt. Our allies, including Clean Water Action, Pesticide Action Network, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, and Sierra Club of California, reiterated the urgency and importance of setting the MCL at the most health-protective level, and stressed that costs to treat this so-called "garbage chemical" should be borne by the responsible parties, Shell Oil and Dow Chemical, not local water systems nor their ratepayers.


At the Valley workshops in Bakersfield and Fresno, residents and local water board members turned out to express their support for the preliminary recommendation, and share concerns and emotional stories about high rates of cancer and illness in their communities where 1,2,3-TCP is present. Additionally, several media stories, including an op-ed by our very own Jerry Tinoco, were published in the past few weeks drawing significant attention to this important issue.

These past few weeks show the progress we've made toward securing a strong, health-protective MCL for the toxic drinking water contaminant 1,2,3-TCP, but this is just the beginning! While the State Water Board has made public health a priority with their preliminary recommendation, we expect push-back from the polluters who are responsible for cleaning up this contaminant, so we still have work our work cut out in Sacramento and in our impacted communities.

We expect the formal comment period -- when we will really need your support with letters, petitions, and public testimony! -- to begin this fall. That would put California on track to adopt the MCL in Spring 2017. Stay tuned for more updates, and take action for health if you haven't already!  


California State Water Board holds meeting in Bakersfield about high levels of 1,2,3 TCP in the water

By Jessica Harrington

July 26, 2016

Original Story:

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The State Water Board held a public workshop in Bakersfield Tuesday on the pesticide byproduct 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP). 

The workshop was the second of of three meetings the State Water Board is holding in regards to 1,2,3 TCP.

"My concern is that the water has different kinds of things that, that we -- a lot of people don't know about," said James Guzman who attended the meeting Tuesday.

On July 21, 2016 the State Water Board held the first of three meetings. In the first meeting, the State Water Board staff shared a preliminary proposal to set the TCP drinking water standard at 5 parts per trillion, which experts say is the most health-protective standard. 

"You don't get sick right away or anything like that, but over a long period of time, there could be a chance," said Andrew DiLuccia, a spokesperson for the State Water Board. However, he said that's why the water board wants to implement regulations -- to prevent it from happening altogether. 

Currently, Kern County's water is about 200 times that amount, something experts say is extremely dangerous and can cause cancer. 

The carcinogen is not regulated in water, companies are simply required to tell their customers that the water is higher than 5 parts per trillion.

State Water Officials said resident increase the likelihood of developing cancer if they drink two liters of the water per day for 70 or more years. 

"You know if we can eliminate any possible exposure, why not do it?" said Jerry Tinoco, a coordinator for the south Kern community for the Community Water Center.

The proposed regulation would give the State Water Board the option to take action if a water company exceeds more than 5 parts per trillion of 1,2,3 TCP in the water. 

"Setting the standard at this level would help protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians who currently drink water contaminated with TCP," Asha Kreiling posted on the CWC website.

Kreiling said CWC expects the standard will be presented later this year and hopes it will be formally adopted by next spring, around April.

For more information about 1,2,3 TCP visit the State Water Board website here.



State workshop informs water users 117 Kern County wells have levels of TCP

By Anne Di Grazia

July 26, 2016

Original story:


It was once classified as a "safe" pesticide by Central Valley farmers and an "okay" cleaning product. But 1-2-3 TCP is far from safe. It is an colorless, odorless, cancer-causing chemical that has leaked into our groundwater.

Isabel Martinez and Jerry Tinoco live in Arvin and claim the water is contaminated.

"You know our people is dying that's not fair that's not fair at all," Martinez said.

"We have 1-2-3 TCP and Arsenic in the water, we don't have safe drinking water in Arvin," Tinoco said.

During the state water board presentation they learned 471 public water system wells across the state are tainted with 1-2-3 TCP. According to officials, 117 of those wells are here in Kern, the highest number in the state.

State Water Board spokesperson, Andrew DiLuccia, said those are private wells they are public wells that serve 15 or more connections.

To ensure clean drinking water the board is looking to develop a maximum contaminant level schedule to hold providers accountable, making sure they are testing water and monitoring constantly. Informing the public of 1-2-3 TCP contamination and treating appropriately.

"It will have a legal enforcement which we don't have right now in order to get water systems back in compliance," DiLuccia said.

A long term plan that won't start until 2018 but will give the community hope.

"It's a big step for them to come down to the valley, to the belly of the beast, and educate the residents, the people who are affected directly," Tinoco said.

The board said it will use public input to establish it's final maximum contaminant level recommendation. If you missed today's meeting and want more information click here.


Contaminants in 117 public wells across Kern County

By Kahtia Hall

July 26, 2016

Original Story:

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The State Water Resources Board met with the public Tuesday to discuss plans to monitor the high levels of 1,2,3-TCP that have been found in public wells across Kern County. 

The cleaning solvent 1,2,3-TCP is also associated with pesticide products.

Back in the 1940s, Dow and Shell started to use this product as a fumigant. Even though, they had evidence it was harmful to humans, they continued to use it anyways. By the '90s, 1,2,3- TCP was banned, but by that time the toxin had found it's way into the groundwater.

Anything over 5 ppt is considered toxic, and currently there are 117 public wells across Kern County that have are over this limit of 1,2,3-TCPs.

Even though, high toxins have been found, water providers do not have to do anything about it. This carcinogen is can be absorbed through the drinking water or by breathing it in the home.

The State Water Resources Board met Tuesday to discuss plans to come up with a MCL, or maximum contaminant level, making an effort to regulate these toxins.

"When that is in place, water systems will have to test for that along with all the other chemicals that they test for. That will be part of their weekly, monthly or daily, in some instances, part of their reporting," said Andrew DiLuccia, spokesperson for the State Water Resources Board. 

If water providers exceed this level, they will be forced to put in treatment. One of the main kinds of treatment officials are looking at is called granulated active carbon. Diluccia said this kind of treatment has been used for decades and is cost-effective.

Residents living in the Arvin community say they have seen a high number of cancer-related deaths, and everyone Eyewitness News talked to links those deaths to the toxic water.

"I went back to Arvin five years ago, and ever since I moved back, just around my block, five ladies have passed away from cancer, and then there is three cancer survivors, and I always thought something is not right here ... something is not right," said Elizabeth Martinez, an Arvin resident.

No current cases have been linked to the contaminant. But, according to the State Water Resources Board, drinking high levels of 1,2,3-TCP over 70 years can increase risks of developing cancer.


Time to Set a Legal Limit for Carcinogen Found in Kern’s Water

By Jerry Tinoco

July 21,2016

Original Story:


A few weeks ago, a Bakersfield television report on the carcinogenic water contaminant 1,2,3-trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP) caught many local residents by surprise. The report shared details about the prevalence of this drinking water contaminant and highlighted that some wells exceeded the state’s public health goal for 1,2,3-TCP by 200 times. Many people were rightfully confused and concerned.

As a lifelong Arvin resident and the South Kern Community Programs Coordinator for the Community Water Center (CWC), I have been working alongside community members to set a health-protective drinking water standard for 1,2,3-TCP. A strong standard is needed so that we can start regulating this dangerous contaminant in our drinking water. This month, residents have opportunities to learn more about 1,2,3-TCP and get involved in advocacy to protect our communities from this chemical.

Right after the television report came out, I started getting calls from concerned residents in Kern County asking what 1,2,3-TCP is, where it comes from, and what we can do about it. In a sense, they had just taken an important step toward addressing this issue, which is to educate themselves.

Before talking about what we can do to address 1,2,3-TCP, I want to share a brief history of this contaminant to help South Kern residents understand why a colorless, odorless and tasteless manmade chemical is in our drinking water. Classified  as a carcinogen in 1999,  1,2,3-TCP nevertheless remains unregulated by the State of California which lacks a drinking water  standard. 1,2,3-TCP was a pesticide ingredient that got into the Central Valley’s groundwater through extensive pesticide use prior to the 1980s.

What makes this particularly frustrating is that 1,2,3-TCP was only a byproduct in these pesticides. Since it was not an active ingredient, 1,2,3-TCP served no purpose, making this a horrible example of corporate irresponsibility and negligence. Two corporations – Shell and Dow – decided to leave this byproduct in their pesticides rather than properly disposing of it as a hazardous waste. Their choice to do so has left South Kern residents and hundreds of thousands of Californians exposed to a chemical known to cause irritation and burning of the skin, nose, eyes, and throat – and cancer. Kern County now has the unfortunate honor of being the county with the greatest number of 1,2,3-TCP detections in California, with 17 contaminated community water systems, including those serving Arvin, Bakersfield, and Greenfield.

And yes, drinking the water once or twice won’t kill you. Hazardous effects come from prolonged exposure to this contaminant. Many people live in Kern County their whole lives. Their roots are here. Unfortunately those roots are grounded in contaminated water. Still, no one should have to choose between staying in their hometown and living somewhere else with safe water.

So how can we prevent people from having to make that decision? Now that we know this contaminant is here, what can we do?

First, you can use bottled water for drinking, cooking and washing dishes. Unfortunately, unlike with Arsenic, there are no 1,2,3-TCP filters certified for in-home use because manufactures, who make filters for Arsenic, can’t make filters because California lacks a drinking water standard for this contaminant. In order for individuals, families and communities to deal with 1,2,3-TCP, we need the State Water Board to set a health-protective drinking water standard, or Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), for this contaminant.

The second thing you can do is to get involved in the process of setting that MCL. The State Water Resources Control Board will be hosting a workshop on July 26th in Bakersfield to hear residents’ input and concerns. This is our opportunity to be our own advocates and let our voices be heard. In preparation for that meeting, the Community Water Center will be hosting two community meetings on July 21st and 22nd in Arvin and Greenfield, respectively, so that you can learn more about this contaminant and the process of establishing an MCL.

Setting the MCL will put in motion the series of events that will finally rid us of this contaminant. With an MCL, filters can be certified to treat 1,2,3-TCP, water providers can be required to treat their water systems, and the corporations responsible for this contaminant can be held accountable for their negligence.

We need to let those in power know that we do not want harmful chemicals in our water, and that we deserve an MCL that prioritizes our health. The Community Water Center and our partners are urging the state to set the MCL at 5 parts per trillion to protect community health. If we want to achieve this goal, I need my neighbors to join me at these upcoming meetings so that we can send a strong message to the State Water Board. So whether you’re from Arvin, Bakersfield, Delano, or anywhere in Kern County, I encourage you to come out, learn more, and let your voices be heard to ensure everyone has safe water.

More information:

CWC Community Workshop
Friday, July 22, 6:00 p.m.
Rexland Community Center 
325 Fairview Rd. 
Bakersfield, California 93307

State Water Board Public Workshop
Tuesday, July 26, 2016 – 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Kern County Public Health Department, Mojave/Sierra Room
1800 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Bakersfield 93306

Learn more and join CWC’s action team here or give me a call at (661) 345-9976.


California To Set Legal Limit On Probable Carcinogen In Water

Amy Quinton

July 19, 2016

Original Story:


The California State Water Resources Control Board will soon set a maximum contaminant level for 1,2,3 Trichloropropane, or 1,2,3 TCP.

It's currently found in industrial solvents and cleaning agents, but it was once found in two popular soil fumigants made by Dow Chemical and Shell Oil Company.

The pesticide byproduct contaminated groundwater throughout the Central Valley. State water regulators have found 1,2,3 TCP in 94 public drinking water systems in 16 counties.

Right now, water systems in California are only required to notify residents if the chemical is found at a certain health-based advisory level.

“But they are not required to do anything about it. They’re not required to treat it," says Asha Kreiling with the environmental justice group Community Water Action. "It’s totally legal to be in the water, although we know this is a human carcinogen. Having a MCL [Maximum Contaminant Level] established will require public water systems to treat the water.”

The State Water Resources Control Board will hold public meetings in Sacramento, Fresno, and Bakersfield this month to discuss what the legal limit should be.

Environmental groups want regulators to set the lowest and most protective level possible so that the companies responsible for the contamination are paying for treatment.

Regulators are expected to make an official recommendation in the fall.


Public meeting to be held on carncinogen found in Kern water

By Claudia Rodriguez

July 20, 2016

Official story:


A local meeting is planned following a Cal Water report that states a colorless, odorless, cancer-causing chemical has been lurking in Kern's water systems for years.

State officials are taking action to set limits on just how much of it can be allowed in our groundwater.

It's called trichloropropane or 1,2,3 TCP.

It's classified as a safe pesticide by Central Valley farmers.

But in 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency established a limit after fi


nding it can cause cancer in humans.

The State Water Board says some public water systems are delivering water that is contaminated with levels that exceed the public health goal.


The poisonous compound TCP was manufactured in the 1980's by two companies, Shell Global and the Dow Chemical company.

It's been found in four counties Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Merced and Los Angeles.


About seven years ago, the EPA established a public health goal for the chemical of .7 parts per trillion.

The State Water Board is now proposing to lower that number to .5 parts per trillion.

Officials say long-term exposure or drinking can lead to cancer.

However, it does say people should not be concerned.

“At this point, it's our belief that water systems are ensuring that water that goes to their customers should be at levels lower that could have a health impact but they are asking us for specifics on what that safe line would be. That's why we are holding these public meetings and we are certainly encouraging public participation. But there is no immediate health risk,” said George Kostyrko with the State Water Board.

One of three workshops to inform the public about TCP will be held in Bakersfield.

It will include a staff presentation with information as well as the potential health concerns associated with it.

The meeting is next Tuesday, July 26 at the Kern County Public Health Department from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Mojave/Sierra room.

The State Water Board says it will use public input to establish its final maximum contaminant level recommendation.

Officials hope to have that number set by the end of the year.


Learn more about pesticide byproduct found in Valley drinking water

By Andrea Castillo

July 19, 2016

Original story:


As California regulators plan to set a legal limit on a cancer-causing chemical found in Valley water systems, clean water advocates are urging residents to attend coming public workshops on the issue.

The State Water Resources Control Board will hold a public workshop on July 28 at the Woodward Park Library in Fresno to discuss the development of the drinking water standard for the chemical. The board is also holding workshops in Sacramento and Bakersfield.

The chemical, called 1, 2, 3-Trichloropropane, seeped into groundwater as a pesticide byproduct. It was added to the state’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer in 1999 but remains unregulated.

Andria Ventura of the national organization Clean Water Action said the development of a legal standard has been long delayed. She said the limit is necessary to protect the public and ensure that the financial burden doesn’t fall on them, but on the companies that created TCP.

“This is a story of severe drinking water contamination in some of our most vulnerable communities that could have totally been avoided,” Ventura said.

TCP, a waste product from the plastic-making process, was in a widely used farm fumigant until the 1980s. It was discovered in drinking water during the 1990s and is widespread in the Valley and other parts of California.

Many cities, including Fresno, Clovis, Visalia, Bakersfield and Stockton, have sued over the dangerous toxin. Dow Chemical and Shell Oil, which are defendants in the lawsuits, manufactured the chemical. There is evidence that TCP was added to the fumigant instead of being properly disposed of decades ago.

The California Department of Public Health has a goal of keeping TCP to levels in the parts per trillion, which is 1,000 times lower than the limit set for many chemicals. It could take hundreds of millions of dollars to treat the water systems contaminated with TCP.

Ventura said not all potentially contaminated water systems have been tested, based on measurement limitations. “The problem could be significantly larger than we know,” she said.

Asha Kreiling of the nonprofit Community Water Center, said the Visalia nonprofit has been working for the past eight months in Valley communities affected by TCP. She said people often are concerned and fearful for their health. Many of the communities have high rates of cancer, she said, and residents are mostly farmworkers.

“Often it feels like we’ve just added one more thing for the residents to be concerned about,” she said.



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