CITY HALL — Glendale Water & Power officials are pushing to expand a multimillion-dollar chromium 6 removal project after long-stalled state funding was freed up.
The stalled grant reimbursements from the state had prompted utility officials to threaten suspending operations at the two test facilities, a move that would have been a major setback for a project that could end up having far-reaching implications for how agencies strip the cancer-causing element from water supplies.
Utility officials say the $5-million, multi-jurisdictional research project will help determine the most cost-efficient and effective method.
As of July, Glendale had received just $50,000 of the state's $2.5-million pledge.
But with remaining reimbursement checks expected in coming weeks, utility officials say they now plan to request an additional $800,000 in state funding to expand the project.
"We've gotten our faith restored that we will receive the money," said Assistant General Manager Peter Kavounas. "We're doing what we think needs to be done for Glendale and for the state and we are happy to have an opportunity to go forward."
The project's advisory committee urged the utility in September to continue the work, prompting officials to explore other options.
The additional grant funding would allow officials to keep the two test facilities running through the spring, Kavounas said.
While both methods encountered initial start-up complications, they both have been successful at stripping chromium 6 at very high levels, officials have said.
The money would also allow officials to add a third removal method, called micro-filtration, which has gained interest among advisory committee members.
"It will give more options for treatment and in some cases it may be more cost effective," Kavounas said.
Determining a cost-effective way to strip the contaminant from the water supply will be especially important, officials said, if the state institutes stricter standards for drinking water.
State law currently limits the contaminant to between 6 and 50 parts per billion, but state officials have indicated stricter standards could be handed down in coming years.
John Miller, a Glendale Water & Power commissioner, said the treatment project will also help the utility to better use local groundwater resources.
Local water contains trace amounts of chromium 6 as a result of underground contamination in the San Fernando industrial corridor that occurred decades ago. City officials have said there is no public health threat because the water is blended with clean imports from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
But as the city moves to rely less on the pricey imported water, treatment methods will become more important, he said.
"I would applaud the utility again for taking every opportunity it can to protect and develop this water resource," Miller said.