You Ask. We Investigate.® Chromium 6 Levels in Water at School

You Ask. We Investigate.® Chromium 6 Levels in Water at School

Martín Di Felice

Thermal, CA

A local school alerts parents about elevated levels of Chromium 6 at Westside Elementary in Thermal.

A viewer wrote us saying, "We have had an ongoing issue with their water situation. Last year we had this issue and the students were given water bottles. It’s at much higher levels now."

The Coachella Valley Water District tells us water at the school is similar to that of many of their customers.

They say they’ve been sending letters as well since 2016 because of new state rules.

Assistant Superintendent Gregory Fromm with the Coachella Valley Unified School District says there’s no cause for alarm.
"We have to test the water per the Senate Bill 395 which when into effect for Chromium 6 at our Westside Elementary school. The reason we have to test it there is that we are on our own well there," said Fromm.

The school had to send out notices because they are on well water, but they will be connected to Coachella Valley Water District next year.

We asked Steve Bigley with CVWD if the Chromium levels are similar to other areas in the valley, "The levels that the school sees are very similar to the levels that we see in many of the wells that we use for our customers," said Bigley.

Several years ago California approved stricter rules for the amount of Chromium 6 in water than the rest of the country.

"Chrome 6 is an element that occurs naturally in the groundwater supplies in the Coachella Valley," said Bigley.

Many of us have heard of Chromium 6 because of the case of Erin Brockovich.
The Environment Protection Agency is still reviewing data to see if Chromium-6 may be a human carcinogen if ingested in large quantities.

"Our customers like the people that are using water at the school should understand that there is no immediate risk to public health, they can continue to use that water while water systems are working to come into compliance with this new state regulation," said Bigley.

CVWD is working on treatment technologies to bring Chromium-6 levels across the desert down to the new limits by January 2020.

So we asked the school officials again if parents need to worry, Fromm responded, "No they do not."

Trying to stress that water here is still safe to drink, Coachella Valley Water District employees tells us much bottled water actually has higher levels of Chromium 6, and it’s not under the same state rules because it falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA.