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The Buckhorn

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Winters Express
312 Railroad Avenue, Winters, CA 95694
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Postman Pitts delivers his last letter


By DEBRA DeANGELO
Express editor
The world’s most happy letter carrier popped his very last letter into the very last mailbox on Wolfskill Street last Thursday, May 18, and with the flourish of his hand and a grin, called it quits.
It was Richard Pitts’ final day on the job, after 39 years with the U.S. Postal Service, and just in the nick of time, too: the hot summer days are on the horizon.
“I’ll let the younger people handle that,” says Pitts, confirming that the triple-digit summer days are almost as bad as the cold wind and rain in the winter. Almost, but not quite.
“Last winter reminded me how much I hated delivering mail in the wind and rain,” he admits.
Although the last few years were mostly dry in the winter in the midst of the drought, Pitts has had plenty of windy, rainy days to contend with in his nearly four decades as a letter carrier. He started in his career in Broderick, working there for five and a half years, then moved on to Dixon for 10 and a half years, and when a full-time position opened up in Winters, he jumped on it.
“Why keep driving for the same pay,” he comments, and adds that transferring to the Winters Post Office is probably his favorite memory of all. Adding to that sentiment was surely the fact that Winters is Pitts’ home town. He graduated from Winters High School in 1969.
He notes that the job has changed a lot over the years, in particular, with competition from Amazon as well as package delivery services like UPS and Fed-Ex. But one thing remained the same — driving his rounds every single day.
Now that this chapter of his life is finished, Pitts is looking forward to “a little traveling, a little golf and a little gardening,” but most of all, what does he plan to do now with all his free time?
“Whatever I want,” he says, with a big smile.

 


Nix on Chrome 6

Judge orders state to redo Chromium 6
regulation
By MARGARET BURNS
Staff writer
The legalese language may sound low-key and unexciting, but the impact on individuals, water systems and cities is huge.
Judge Christopher E. Krueger of the Superior Court, County of Sacramento, made the following ruling on Friday, May 5:
“For the reasons stated above, the petition is granted and this case is remanded to the Department (Water Resources Control Board) with orders to withdraw the current MCL and establish a new MCL. When establishing a new MCL, the Department must comply with the Legislature’s directive to consider the economic feasibility of compliance, paying particular attention to small water systems and their users…”,
MCL is the Maximum Contaminant Level allowed for a substance in public drinking water sources. According to the California State Water Resources Control Board, the MCL takes into account “not only chemicals’ health risks but also factors such as their detectability and treatability, as well as costs of treatment.”
The cost of treatment was the heart of the complaint brought by the Solano County Taxpayers Association and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association against the California regulation for chromium 6 levels in drinking water.
It is also the source of “our sordid nightmare regarding Chromium 6,” according to John Donlevy, Winters city manager, in his Friday, May 19, update email. He wrote that the massive water treatment program could have cost Winters upwards of $47 million, and customers could experience “increases of up to $200 per month in water rates.”
The ruling from Judge Krueger had cost estimates that were not quite like “Nightmare on Elm Street” but more like a really, really bad dream. At the current chromium 6 MCL of 10 ppb, the cost per service connection was estimated to be $326 per year ($27 per month) for systems serving between 1,000 and 10,000 customers. Winters currently has 2,064 service connections (customers). These cost estimates were developed by the State Water Control Board.
If the water system were very small, having less than 200 customers, the annual cost per service connection would be $5,630.
If the MCL for chromium 6 were raised to 30 ppb, a chart in the ruling shows that the cost per service connection would be $200 per year ($17 per month) for customers in a city the size of Winters.
The judge’s ruling agreed with the petitioners (the Taxpayers Association and the CA Manufacturers and Technology Association) that the Water Board “failed to either consider or determine whether it was economically feasible to set the MCL at 10 ppb.”
There are two different variants of chromium in water. Chromium 3 is not known to be toxic, but chromium 6 has known toxic effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends the limit of total chromium (Cr 3 plus Cr 6) in drinking water at 100 ppb. However, the EPA has not set a legal limit and does not require water utilities to test for chromium 6, according to the Environmental Working Group report on chromium in U.S. tap water.
The existing standard for total chromium in drinking water in California is 50 ppb, half that of the EPA federal standard.
Once the ruling is finalized, there will be a 30 day period in which appeals may be filed. If no appeals are forthcoming, the matter will be back in the hands of the California State Water Resources Control Board to reconsider the MCL for hexavalent chromium.
This is probably not the last we have heard about the issue of chromium 6 in drinking water. An organization called California River Watch is suing the city of Vacaville in United States District Court, charging it with transporting chromium VI though city water pipes.
Stay tuned.