By Michael S. Feeley, John C. Heintz, Bobbi-Jo Dobush and James J. Chang

On December 17, 2013, Judge Evelio Grillo of the Alameda County Superior Court ordered the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to finalize regulations establishing drinking water standards for hexavalent chromium (Cr-6) by Spring 2014.  The court held that CDPH must submit a final primary drinking water standard (a maximum contaminant level or MCL) to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for review and publication by one of two alternative dates: by April 15, 2014, if the Department does not determine that any of the public comments on its proposed standard requires it to modify the standard in a way necessitating a new 15-day public comment period under the Administrative Procedures Act; or by June 15, 2014 if the Department determines that it will modify the standard in such a way.[1] The OAL must then review and approve or reject the standard within 30 days.[2]  Thus, a final enforceable rule is expected as soon as May 15, 2014, but no later than July 15, 2014

By Michael S. Feeley, John C. Heintz, Bobbi-Jo Dobush and James J. Chang

On October 31, 2013, Judge Evelio Grillo of the Alameda County Superior Court held a hearing in the ongoing case of NRDC v. California Department of Public Health, Cal. Super. Ct. No. RG12643520 to take evidence regarding the quantity and nature of public comments on the draft Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Chromium-6 (Cr-6) and the expected timing for California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to finalize the regulation.  Judge Grillo had previously directed the CDPH to issue a draft MCL for Cr-6 before September 1, 2013.  In advance of that deadline (August 23, 2013), CDPH published a draft regulation that would establish an MCL in drinking water of 10 parts per billion.[1]  The 45-day public comment period on the draft MCL closed on October 11, 2013.[2] 

By Michael S. Feeley, John C. HeintzJulia E. Stein and Bobbi-Jo Dobush

On August 23, 2013, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released a draft Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for hexavalent chromium (Cr-6).[1]  The Clean Water Act is a federal law, which regulates water pollution.[2] It authorizes the states to develop water quality standards, such as MCLs, that police water contamination.[3]  These state standards must be at least as strict as those adopted by the EPA, but states can elect to maintain stricter regulations.[4]  Where the EPA has not adopted a standard for a particular contaminant, a state may adopt its own based on appropriate scientific evidence.[5]

By Bobbi-Jo Dobush and John C. Heintz

On July 18, 2013, Judge Evelio Grillo of the Alameda County Superior Court in NRDC v. California Department of Public Health, Cal. Super. Ct., No. RG12643520, directed the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to issue a draft Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) in drinking water for Chromium-6 (Cr-6) before September 1, 2013[1].  In 2001, the California State Legislature directed CDPH to issue a Cr-6 MCL by January 1, 2004, but it has not been issued to date.[2]  CDPH had previously indicated it expected to issue the draft MCL for public comment in July 2013,[3]  but the Alameda County Superior Court’s recent decision makes the likelihood of release significantly more certain.[4]