Environment

New Proposal Could See California Water Rates Rise

With the ongoing drought throughout California, the state has asked people to cut back their water usage. That effort failed as most counties did not change their consumption levels. But now, people may have to cut back with a new proposal that could increase water rates throughout the state. 

California is considering a proposal that would limit the amount of hexavalent chromium in water. Hexavalent chromium is a cancer-causing substance that was heavily featured in the 2000 film “Erin Brockovich”. The proposal would limit the amount of hexavalent chromium to 10 parts per billion, which is around 10 drops of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Traces of hexavalent chromium are found in water both from pollution and natural occurrence. This would be the first proposal nationwide to target hexavalent chromium specifically. It is unlikely that the proposal would be passed before 2024.

However, the proposal could lead to a massive water rate increase. Rates for small water systems could see increases of $38 per month. Larger water systems could see increases ranging from 75 cents to $45 per month. Water suppliers that do not comply with the new regulation could be hit with large fines of up to $1,000 per day. A number of drinking water wells throughout California already exceed the 10 parts per billion requirement. The highest levels were reported in areas of Ventura, Los Angeles, Yolo, Merced, and Riverside Counties. Citizens of Los Banos, a heavily Latino community in the Central Valley, are drinking from wells that contain three times the proposed legal amount. 

This proposal was previously implemented back in 2014, but a judge overturned the proposal. With the state already experiencing high water rates with the drought still ongoing, it is unlikely that this proposal will pass.

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