Chemical in Tap Water Concerns Sussex County Residents - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Chemical in Tap Water Concerns Sussex County Residents

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Map from EWG's Chromium-6 Report Map from EWG's Chromium-6 Report

SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. - A new study has some Sussex County citizens concerned about their drinking water.

According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG), Sussex County is one of many counties across the country that tested positive for levels of chromium-6 in tap water--a chemical they classify as a carcinogen. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn't set any regulatory requirement for chromium-6 levels, the state of California has. California mandates that chromium-6's maximum contaminant levels be 10 parts per billion (ppb). The state's public health goal for chromium-6 is 0.02 ppb, according to the EWG.

The EWG's report used chromium-6 data from three areas in Sussex County: Heron Bay, South Bethany, and the "Rehoboth District." The report lists the Rolling Meadows Treatment Plant off Route 1 as having chromium-6 levels at 1.8 ppb. Residents in the neighborhood told WBOC they were alarmed to know potentially dangerous chemicals were in their drinking water.

"I'm very concerned. Very concerned," said Diana Dolan. "I would like to know what's going to happen."

Tidewater Utilities operates all of the plants listed in the report's "Rehoboth District." In a statement, Tidewater Utilities noted their levels of chromium-6 were well below California's maximum contaminant levels, and that protecting public health is their top priority.

Edward Hallock, program administrator for the State of Delaware's Office of Drinking Water, says that chromium-6 is monitored on a regular basis. He said the EPA is currently reviewing the potential health effects of the chemical.

"I think we are in good shape with chromium in Delaware," he said.

Tidewater Utilities also mentioned the EPA study in their statement:

"We await findings from a current EPA study on the health effects of chromium-6 to determine if an MCL for hexavalent chromium will be established. If so, Tidewater will modify its treatment, testing and monitoring practices, if necessary, to ensure compliance with any new regulations and ensure ongoing safety and public health."

The Delaware Health and Social Services' Division of Public Health says ingesting chromium-6 can lead to gastric and respiratory problems. With potential risks like these in mind, Rolling Meadows resident Diana Dolan had a message for her water provider:

"Clean up our water," she said. "Get that chemical out."  

The EWG's entire report can be found here.

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