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Writ Alleges California Department of Public Health Failed to Comply With Mandatory Statutory Duties When It Set MCL for Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water

Publications - Client Alert | July 7, 2014

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recently set an Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10ppb (parts per billion) for hexavalent chromium in drinking water. This MCL is the most stringent in the nation, and is much lower than what the latest research shows is needed to protect public health.

In response to the MCL, The California Manufacturers & Technology Association and the Solano County Taxpayers Association (SCTA) filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate in the Superior Court of California, Sacramento on May 29 over the newly proposed hexavalent chromium MCL.

The case charges the CDPH did not adequately consider the cost of compliance with the new regulation and the economic effects those costs would have on businesses and individual rate payers. The filing states:

“In adopting the hexavalent chromium PHG [Public Health Goal], [C]DPH failed to comply with its mandatory statutory duties to (a) determine the economic feasibility of compliance with the proposed MCL, (b) base the MCL on the economic feasibility of compliance, and (c) to consider the costs of compliance to public water systems, customers, and other affected parties, including the cost per customer and aggregate cost of compliance, using best available technology.”

The case further states that:

“Despite acknowledging that the national MCL for chromium is the national primary drinking water standard adopted by the U.S. EPA to address exposures to hexavalent chromium, DPH failed and refused to consider the national standard in its adoption of the California hexavalent chromium MCL, as required by Health and Safety Code section 116365, subdivision (b)(2).”

“[C]DPH violated its clear, present, and mandatory obligation under Government Code section 11346.9, subdivision (a)(3), to substantively respond to all relevant public comments.”

The California Department of Public Health has not responded to the writ as of the writing of this update.

Additional Information

Jad Davis and Tiffany Ackley of Kutak Rock are actively involved in regulatory and litigation involving hexavalent chromium. The outcome of the SCTA’s petition will likely impact many of our clients. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how the new MCL and SCTA’s petition may affect you, then please do not hesitate to contact them at (949) 417-0999.