Regulations on drinking water to get fine-tuned

By: Alex Breitler

Chromium-3 is an essential nutrient. Its evil twin, chromium-6, is believed to cause cancer.

But consumer confidence reports that aim to educate the public about tap water quality do not distinguish between chromium-3 and chromium-6 – the same pollutant made famous by Erin Brockovich in the desert town of Hinkley, the same pollutant that has been detected in public drinking water in San Joaquin County and across the nation.

Rather, the report that arrives in your mailbox by July 1 each year lists only the total amount of chromium.

Some local water providers did sample their wells for chromium-6 nearly a decade ago. Stockton found it as high as 4 parts per billion to 6 parts per billion, said Mark Madison, head of the city’s Municipal Utilities Department.