Adding chloramine to improve safety of city water is
dubious, some say
RUTLAND-What's known is the city has to do something in order to
comply with federal drinking water regulations. But whether the
city should switch from chlorine to chloramine as a disinfectant
for the drinking water or install a new filtering system, is being
hotly debated. Adding chloramine would not affect water rates,
experts estimate, but may cause greater harm and thereby greater
costs to human health, infrastructure and the environment; the
filter option (granular activated carbon (GAC) system) would add an
estimated cost of $25 million over 20 years, increasing rates by 47
About 50 people attended the last Board of Alderman meeting,
Monday, August 6. The vast majority were against using chloramine
in city water, citing research on negative health effects and
potential environmental impacts. They suggested that chloramine
causes skin, respiratory and digestive problems in some people,
among other side affects.
In Rutland, the responsibility for clean city water that meets
required EPA standards rests with Public Works Commissioner Evan
Pilachowski. He believes chloramine is the best alternative, but he
has sought the guidance of the Board of Aldermen who may ask the
public to vote on a bond for an alternative filtration system on
the November ballot.
On August 6, Board President David Allaire ruled that the motion
to put a water bond on the November ballot failed by a voice vote.
A poll was conducted after, however, that showed the board actually
had voted 6-4 in favor of the bond vote. Aldermen Jon Kiernan, Gary
Donahue, Christopher Siliski, Christopher Robinson and David
Wallstrom along with Alderwoman Sharon Davis all reported voting
"We are hopeful that it will be brought up again under
'unfinished business' and re-voted on," said Traci Pena of Rutland
who attended the Aug. 6 meeting. "We hope that those who voted YES
on 8/6 will remain voting YES and the vote will pass." Pena is
helping to circulate a petition against adding chloramine to city
water. Allaire also expected this issue to come up as
The board has until Sept. 10 to add the
question regarding city water to the November ballot. Pilachowski
has told the public he won't decide to use chloramine until it is
clear no bond issue will be forthcoming.
Several people at the August 6 meeting said they were willing to
pay more on their bills to keep Rutland's water "clean" but several
aldermen said they expect, if added to the ballot, the bond will
fail due to the price associated. If the vote is "no" it would
leave the city no option but chloramine.
Some also think arguments against chloramine are
Chloramine is widely used as a disinfectant in water
systems throughout the United States and the Environmental
Protection Agency has judged chloramine to be safe.
More than 100 communities in New England use chloramine to
disinfect water, including Boston. The Champlain Water District in
Chittenden County, with about 68,000 households, began to use
chloramine in its water six years ago. The EPA states that about 80
million people across the country use chloramine to treat water. At
the same time, the EPA recognizes that research on the safety (or
danger) of chloramines is lacking, despite the fact that chloramine
has been used for decades.
The next Board of Alderman meeting is Monday, August 20 at 7
p.m. at Rutland City Hall, 1 Strongs Avenue. The public is invited