Posted on April 10, 2012

Hinkley Residents Offered Whole-House Water

As part of the ongoing effort to listen and respond to the concerns of Hinkley residents, PG&E will begin a voluntary program later this year to provide whole-house water to eligible residents.

For those who choose to participate, PG&E’s whole-house water program will provide a reliable water supply for households that can be used for indoor uses such as drinking, cooking and bathing.

In the past, PG&E has provided bottled drinking water to any resident who lives within 1 mile of the boundary of the chromium-6 plume. The whole-house water program would replace the bottled water program and goes above and beyond any regulatory requirement. The program would benefit about 300 households and far exceeds the approximately 20 homes that PG&E would have been required to develop a new permanent source of water under a state regulatory agency’s order issued late last year.

As part of the program, PG&E will pay for one of the following two whole-house water options (including installation, maintenance and monitoring of the systems):

  • Drilling a deeper well (where feasible) on the property to draw water from the lower aquifer, or;
  • Installing individual whole-house systems that treat water at the well head (supplemented by small under-sink treatment systems).

However, for those families who feel neither option meets their needs, PG&E will offer to purchase the property following an appraisal.

In order to be eligible for the whole house water program or property purchase options, residences must meet the following criteria: The property must have an active domestic well and must be located within 1 mile of the chromium-6 plume. And, the domestic well must have been tested by PG&E within the last six months and found to have detectable amounts of chromium 6.

PG&E used chromium to prevent rust in cooling towers at the natural-gas compressor station in Hinkley during the 1950s and 1960s—a common industry practice at the time.

The utility has taken responsibility for the contamination and has been working in partnership with the local Community Advisory Committee that was launched last year. The company’s willingness to offer the voluntary whole-house water program is the direct result of discussions with the Community Advisory Committee.

PG&E recently submitted a feasibility study report to the Lahontan Water Board that evaluates several approaches for providing whole-house water and recommending the two options. The utility will spend the next several months gathering input on the whole-house water options and planning for installation and operation.

The whole house water program will be offered until the State of California has adopted a drinking water standard specifically for chromium 6 (expected in the next two to three years), or for up to five years, at which time the program will be evaluated to ensure that all new studies and data can be considered.

The utility will begin contacting eligible residents later this month to discuss the program. Eligible residents may also contact PG&E at (760) 253-7896.

The company’s top officials have stressed the ongoing commitment to remedy the situation in Hinkley. (Click here to see a video of PG&E’s Des Bell talking about key actions taken by the utility in Hinkley.)

PG&E also continues working closely with local school officials. Hinkley Elementary School is scheduled to receive a new water system as part of a recently-reached settlement agreement related to contamination from hexavalent chromium.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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