Paying for good water
For the past six years Rutland City has not been in compliance with the EPAís standards for haloacetic acids in our tap water. The city has failed to replace many of their pipes. Some pipes that are still being utilized are 100-year-old pipes made of wood. Currently, the Board of Aldermen and the commissioner of public works have proposed to add chloramines to our water as a disinfectant. This would bring them into compliance with the EPA allowance for haloacetic acids in our water.
However, chloramines are a chemical compound of chlorine and ammonia. When the two chemicals are mixed it creates a deadly gas. It is highly toxic to fish and other marine life. When in contact with other organic materials in natural bodies of water, it creates toxic by-products. This presents many unknowns to the public at large. Chloramines are genotoxic and cytotoxic and damaging to any organic matter they are in contact with. The EPA, with the help of scientists, have discovered many by-products that are also genotoxic and cytotoxic. These by-products are mutagens and have the potential to cause cancer and birth defects. Chloramines cause leaching of lead pipes and lead soldering. Leaching and lead soldering can cause neurological damage, a host of health problems and even death in small children. In copper pipes it creates pinholes in which mold grows. This mold is highly toxic to humans. It also destroys rubber seals in pipes, as well as in household plumbing.
While it is human nature to dismiss this problem as happening elsewhere, in some other city, the fact of the matter is those who even consider putting chloramines in our water are threatening our health and the health of our children. With the introduction of chloramines in Washington, D.C., there has been a sudden increase of cases of lead poisoning among children.
Currently, there has been much debate over a more intelligent option, which is to install a granulated activated carbon filter. This would ensure to purifying our water and keeping our health. The discussion has been centered not on whether it would be efficient, but that of cost. Robert Bowcock, a water specialist, has estimated the installment cost of a new GAC filtration system to be around $6 million. In addition to this would be a yearly $1.5 million cost for maintenance. In a recent article written by Gordon Dritschilo of the Rutland Herald, he stated and multiplied the maintenance cost over the span of 20 years to be a staggering $25 million, with a 47 percent water tax increase. While that figure at first glance may seem intimidating, especially for those who are currently struggling to pay their quarterly water bill, when divided among Rutland ratepayers, we see it is much more digestible. It is estimated under $50 a quarter or $200 per year. In addressing the issues of cost, I share the opinion along with many Rutland ratepayers that much of the estimated cost of the GAC filter would further be reduced once the exact measures are taken to fit Rutland needs. I am confident that many of Rutlandís hard-working residents will also agree that it is a figure that is worth paying to ensure our health and environment.
In conclusion, I would like to add that there has been a request to add a bond question on our upcoming ballot with the exact wording and monetary cost/budget to be figured. Your voice and vote are crucial for our health. After all, it is our city.
Anthony Bellomo is a resident of Rutland.