The budget for Glendale’s long-running research into a cancer-causing contaminant found in the city’s groundwater is set to jump to roughly $11 million as the City Council this week approved another $1.1 million in grant funding.
But after more than 13 years of research and numerous City Hall meetings requesting council approval for more funding for the chromium 6 research — the majority of which has been paid for by grants from the state and other water agencies — city officials said this would be the last time they’d ask to increase the program’s budget.
“We know this is the last time we’re coming to you because we have reached the [state funding] limit,” said Ramon Abueg, chief assistant general manager of electric and water at Glendale Water & Power, the city-owned utility.
In addition to approving the funding request, Councilman Ara Najarian asked if Glendale could have naming rights to the removal procedures its researchers have discovered. Steve Zurn, general manager of Glendale Water & Power, said he would seriously look into the request.
“Why don’t we call this the ‘Glendale Treatment?’” Najarian said. “You’ve got the Heimlich Maneuver.”
Glendale’s research into chromium 6, which spread throughout the San Fernando Valley due to an aerospace industry that has long disappeared from the landscape, has played a significant role in the state’s work to set a new limit for the contaminant.
The state must set a limit as close to a 2011 public health goal of .02 parts per billion as economically feasible. The public health goal identifies the level of chromium 6 in drinking water that would not cause significant adverse health effects in people who drink two liters of water per day for 70 years.
Glendale researchers have been studying removal methods, including using resin and microfiltration, to find the most cost-effective method.
“The work that’s being done will benefit everybody in the state,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa.
Currently the state limits chromium to 50 parts per billion — which includes the nutrient chromium 3 and the contaminant chromium 6 — but state public health officials have set a new draft contaminant level of 10 parts per billion for chromium 6. The final limit is expected to be established this year.
Glendale Water & Power distributes water with levels of chromium 6 of 5 parts per billion by both removing the contaminant from the water using the studied methods and blending the city’s groundwater with clean, purchased water.
Researchers are still looking into ways to improve the cost of a filtering method they’ve been studying, but they have already submitted other cost analyses and a research report to state officials.
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