FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 6, 2013
Contact: Annette Smith, VCE Exec. Dir. 802-446-2094
Rutland City Voters Overwhelmingly Reject Chloramine
67% vote against adding chemical to water system
Town Meeting voters in Rutland City on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to oppose the use of chloramine as a secondary disinfectant in the city’s water supply.
“The message is very clear – Rutland City residents do not want more chemicals added to their water,” said Nick Santoro, stone sculptor and member of the group Rutland Citizens for Clean and Safe Water http://chloraminewater.wordpress.com/.
The vote came on a non-binding ballot article, which stated, “Do Rutland voters approve the use of chloramine as a secondary disinfectant in the water supply?” 2406 voted against the article, while 1150 supported it. The high percentage of “no” votes held in all four City wards.
“Rutland voters are saying ‘cheaper is not better’, and we are saying no to health problems from drinking chloraminated water, environmental impacts, and the potential damage to plumbing infrastructure,” said Marilyn Griffith. “We spent hours going door to door and getting good information out to Rutland voters, and an informed electorate has spoken. Now it’s up to City officials to listen,” she said.
Chloramine is used by some public water systems as a secondary disinfectant. Ammonia is added to water treated with chlorine to create chloramine before it is sent into the distribution system. The EPA and state officials have been pressuring Vermont water systems to use chloramine as a cheap way to comply with new EPA regulations on disinfection byproducts.
Kathleen Krevetski, a nurse and one of the group members, applauded the “no” vote, stating, “Pure water is our most valuable natural resource essential for life. We will not allow the EPA to muck up one of the highest quality water systems in this country. The EPA needs to do the science and figure out why so many people are getting sick from drinking chloraminated water. The people have spoken and Rutland says no to adding toxic chloramine to our drinking water.”
In water systems that use chloramine nationwide, there have been hundreds of reports of customers suffering from serious breathing, skin, and digestive health problems. When water main breaks occur, chloraminated water has resulted in fish kills. Chloraminated water is far more toxic to aquatic life than chlorinated water. Treated water also can elevate lead levels, dissolve rubber, and damage piping.
The vote will likely be noticed by other Vermont communities, and around the country, as more water systems are urged by EPA to use chloramine. Susan Pickford, a Pennsylvania attorney and founder of Chloramine Information Center http://chloramineinfocenter.net/ who has worked with groups around the country on the issue, applauded the vote. “Congratulations to Rutland citizens who stood up for their right to clean and safe water and made their voices heard. There is no place for ammonia in drinking water. Let’s find a safer, healthier solution, together,” she said.
Vermont advocates also responded to the vote. “This vote is a testament to Vermont’s democratic system and Rutland’s community spirit,” said Annette Smith, Executive Director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment http://www.vce.org/chloramine.html, who supported the citizen-based campaign on the ballot article. “Community members came together and spoke to their neighbors, and found a way to send a message to the city. This is the first time any community in the country has voted to oppose the use of chloramine. When people are given a choice, they say “no” to chloramine” she concluded.