Rutland City faces a choice on Election Day this November. It is a choice about the future of the city and the image it wishes to project. Does Rutland City (and Town) want to be known as a place where its superb water supply is befouled with the addition of more chemicals or kept safe and clean by a mechanical filtering system? Given the direction in which Rutland appears to be marketing itself, the choice seems obvious. As Rutland prepares to become a “Solar City” and a “Food Hub” for the region, a filtration system to maintain its naturally clean water, is the only logical and wise choice.
Though a filtration system has construction and operating costs associated with it, the cost of adding ammonia to the existing chlorine (to create the chemical compound known as chloramines) will result in many unforeseen costs down the road. The question is, “Do we pay now or pay later?” Some of the costs associated with chloramines are the immediate and long term health effects and the associated medical costs, the corrosion and leaching of pipes and plumbing infrastructure, and environmental hazards, just to name a few.
It is also important to note that the city’s consultant, who has never developed a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) system, provided a construction estimate roughly twice that of a nationally known expert with 35 years experience. Consider that fact when you go to the polls this November. The figure of $5.5 million will cause many to react negatively, but when broken down and distributed amongst all water accounts in the region, that figure translates to approximately $10 per month. If GAC is approved by voters and the system is put out to bid, that cost will likely be lower.
On the other hand, it may just be possible that Rutland will not have to implement any changes. For the past two reporting quarters, Rutland City has met the EPA standards for haloacetic acid levels in the drinking water. If aggressive maintenance of the current slow sand filtration system continues and is pursued, the commissioner of Public Works might never have to “push the button” adding ammonia to Rutland’s water supply nor will the taxpayers have to shoulder an additional burden to the city’s bond debt obligation. Perhaps all that is needed is more frequent flushing of the water supply, replacing of the sand, cleaning of the tanks and periodic scraping to remove and control biological growth of unwanted organic matter.
Hopefully, the city will continue to maintain the water treatment facility so as to provide clean and safe water. Should these efforts taken by the city fail to keep Rutland in compliance with EPA regulations, the choice will be to add chloramines, a chemical with known current and future risks or to employ a filtering system known as (GAC).
The use of chloramines in Rutland City (and Town) water is not consistent with the vision of Rutland that many local civic groups are working so hard to achieve.
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