Skip to main content

Independent Voice

Councilmember Calls for Lawsuit

May 30, 2024 04:19PM ● By Angela Underwood

Councilmember Kevin Johnson said he gets “very upset” when considering the state mandate about to be imposed on Dixon. Photo by Angela Underwood

DIXON, CA (MPG) - To be or not to be a City of Dixon legal challenge against the state of California is the question.

Councilmember Kevin Johnson made it very clear at the May 21 meeting that Dixon should not stand down against the California State Water Resources Control Board's April decision to adopt a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 for Chromium 6.

City Attorney Douglas White gave a quick rundown of the timeline before noting that Johnson wanted to have a "robust discussion" on potential legal challenges to the maximum contaminant level and the rulemaking associated with it; however, the rulemaking process is incomplete.

What is certain is that in October, the proposed regulations might be in effect, which will directly affect the City of Dixon's water system that contains natural levels of Chromium 6 above the proposed maximum contaminant level.

"Unless there is same legal challenge to stop it, the City of Dixon will wind up having to comply with the standard and it is just a question of how much the solution will wind up costing," White said.

Johnson noted that he "is not an attorney or engineer, but just someone who pays a water bill."

"When I start to talk about Chrom, I really have to control myself because I am passionate about my feelings and all the knowledge I have," Johnson said. 

That knowledge entails high costs, and according to a staff analysis, "for a small water supplier like Dixon, "the cost of compliance could raise costs for ratepayers by $500, $500 per year per household or more."

The naturally occurring component has been in the water all of the time, Johnson said, adding Dixon is not in a position to accept unfunded state mandates regarding Chromium 6, which might not even affect Dixon due to its size.

 "I just think we should be doing everything we can, whether it results in funded mandate or grants that are created for smaller communities because it is way too much of a cost for something that is not proven on our water system that currently has 3,700 customers," Johnson said.

Councilman Jim Ernest remained cautious. 

"I am not going to give the Jim Ernest stamp that you are not going to get cancer if you drink Chrom 6," Ernest said, adding he put a reverse osmosis system in his residence a few years ago. "I think it is important we explore this since Mr. Johnson made some good points."

Councilmember Don Hendershot disagreed.

"I think it is too early in the process; we need more facts. There are too many unknowns," Hendershot said.

Ernest emphasized the importance of transparency, saying, "We certainly do not want to hide it."

"I think we need to keep it separate from fixing our water," Ernest said, adding the unfunded state mandates are off the hook. "They are asking us to do so many things we can't afford to do as a city."

Mayor Steve Bird encouraged all the council members and the audience to contact Assemblywoman Lori Wilson about the proposed mandate.

"When I met with her last Friday, this is one of the things I hounded her on, and I said, 'You were a mayor, you came from a city that is now kind of in dire straits financially and you know what that feels like, so don't forget where you came from," Bird said referencing the congresswoman's stint in Suisun City. 

In 2023, Dixon opposed the regulation through written communication to no avail. The proposed regulation, put in place in 2014 and overturned in 2017, requires that Dixon comply with the Chromium 6 MCL within three years of the effective regulation date. 

"When you look at the national standard and what they are trying to do here in California, it is over the top and it is wrong," Johnson said of the present federal standard of 0.1 mg/l or 100 ppb.

City attorney White said there is no legal challenge to stay this and "the rates that are currently being adopted may have to be revisited."

Not if Johnson has anything to do with it. 

"We are a feisty community and we stand up for ourselves, and it is not something I think we should just take," Johnson said, adding a grassroots campaign could help.

Sacramento Dixon California arrest records
Ad for the Farmstead at Dixon. Click to go to their website
Upcoming Events Near You

No Events in the next 21 days.