Davis water falls short of state standard

VENOOS MOSHAYEDI / AGGIE
VENOOS MOSHAYEDI / AGGIE

Levels of Hexavalent Chromium exceed new state standards.

The City of Davis Public Works Department (DPWD) recently announced that the local water was below drinking water standards. The reason can be directed to the high levels of chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium (HC), that was discovered in the Davis water supply.

According to Stan Gryczko, assistance public works director at the DPWD, this violation of standards is due mainly to a change in the law rather than the water content itself.

“New standards were put in place of hexavalent chromium last year … [but] many agencies throughout the state could not meet the new standards,” Gryczko said. “Previously, both the state and the federal standards were based on total chromium […] where hexavalent chromium is a part of that total.”

According to a notice put out by the City of Davis, exposure to high levels of HC may have health risks.

“There are not immediate risks for hexavalent chromium above the standards; however, […] some people who [drink the water containing chromium-6] over many years can have an increased risk of getting cancer,” Gryczko said.

Gryczko adds that there are also negligible environmental risks because it is a naturally occurring element. Despite the relatively low risk of the chemical, the city has plans to meet the standards set by the state.

“Our plan was already set in motion previous to the standards […] [We are] currently building […] service water projects in conjunction with Woodland and UC Davis,” Gryzcko said. “That alternate source of water supply will allow us to stop using the wells that exceed the hexavalent chromium standards.”

The project is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2017, according to Richard Tsai, the senior utility resource specialist at the DPWD, in an email interview.

“New transmission mains will be constructed throughout the City to deliver a blend of surface water and groundwater from wells that currently meet the new MCL [maximum contaminant levels]. Until [the project is completed], the city will operate wells that exceed the new MCL only as required to meet water system demand and will continue to test levels as required,” Tsai said in the email.

Many apartment complexes in Davis have been required to inform their tenants of the contaminated water.

“We had to post notices on all the tenant’s doors stating that there is Chromium 6 in the water and what level it is at,” said James Latch, Community Manager at Allegre Apartments in south Davis said.

According to Latch, there has not been an extreme resident response yet.

“I haven’t had anyone come forward asking about it, it wasn’t anything that was considered alarming [for the residents or management],” Latch said.

Written by: JUNO BHARDWAJ-SHAHcity@theaggie.org