City Hall Reporter's Notebook: Yet another water edition
Time and space issues kept a large chunk of the city’s chloramine forum out of the story I wrote last week, so that seems like the best place to start.
Mayor Christopher Louras and his panel of city and state officials set out to debunk a number of claims that have been floating around in the community.
Louras said claims that the city still has wooden water pipes in its infrastructure were “absolutely false.” He also said claims that Rutland’s chloramine levels would be significantly higher than those used in Boston were equally false. In fact, Public Works Commissioner Evan Pilachowski said Rutland’s concentration would be about half that of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which should allay fears about corrosive effects.
“They have not seen lead and copper problems,” Pilachowski said. “They have not seen gasket and household appliance problems.”
Engineer Mark Youngstrom also said characterizations of city pipes as “rotting” were inaccurate. The much-circulated pictures of cross-sections of city pipe did not show rot, but a buildup of mineral deposits within the pipe. Youngstrom said the iron walls of those pipes were fine.
One woman in the audience noted Louras’ leadership during Tropical Storm Irene, his support of solar power in the city and his personal involvement in organic gardening, saying he appeared to have an “ecological conscience.”
Why, then, she asked, did he support the use of chloramine in city water.
“The bottom line is everyone has different levels of comfort with respect to cost-benefit analysis or belief in federal and state regulators with respect that they’re not going to do anything to harm us,” he said.
With health and environmental agencies at the state and federal level calling chloramine “safe and effective,” Louras had trouble believing it was harmful.
That said, Louras added he recognized there was a reasonable case to be made against chloramine.
“I’m not going to say you shouldn’t make a decision on (fewer) chemicals being added in the water,” he said. “That’s a good reason to make a decision. ... When the decision is made, please make the decision in fact, not in fear, and not in fantasy.”
Is it safe?
Bob Bowcock says I misquoted him.
A post on the environmental investigator’s Facebook page, forwarded to me by Alis Headlam, reads “Because of a repeated misquote that I stated chloramine is safe in drinking water... Let me be perfectly clear; nothing could be further from the truth.”
He goes on to list a number of the purported dangers of chloramine.
I paraphrased Bowcock on this point rather than quoting him in the story I wrote on the chloramine forum held back in July. My notes contain two supporting passages, one in which I paraphrased what he was saying, and one that was word for word:
“Monochloramine, in and of itself, as a disinfectant, is a safe disinfectant.”
Name that neighborhood
It wasn’t looking like a good week for this section of the column, which I intend to keep running until there is an official name for the northwestern neighborhood the city may target for revitalization, or until I get bored with it.
One community leader with an aversion to seeing his name in print had some ideas, but didn’t want to offer any of them on the record, which didn’t do me any good. I also got an anonymous letter suggesting that if we change the name of anything, it should be of the whole city.
(Seriously, whoever you are, you couldn’t sign your name to that?)
Like a white knight upon a fiery steed, Peter Altrui came riding to my rescue. The Realtor offered a whole list:
Pine Hill or Pine Hill Park, North by Northwest, The Giorgetti Quarter, The Pines Quarter, Pine Grove, East Creek Grove, The Pines, Rutland Northwest, The Evergreens, Baxter Park and Pine Meadows.
Just for fun, I decided to see what Bing Translator (apparently Babelfish is registration-only now) said the Italian word for “Northwest” was and got “Nordovest.” So I’ll throw that onto the pile.
If anyone else wants to get in on the game, y’all know where to find me.
We’re double-booked tonight.
The Board of Aldermen has its regular meeting at 7 p.m., with an agenda that includes banning medical marijuana dispensaries, tax stabilization at the new winter farmers’ market, and a zoning change on Tremont Street.
At the same time, The police department and Rutland United Neighborhoods will host a meeting at the Northwest School to discuss the fatal crash on Cleveland Avenue.
Wednesday, the Intermunicipal Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. to discuss a water request at the Meadows and the Development Review Board meets at 6 p.m. to look at a proposed subdivision on River Street.