Safe water, or cheap water?
Definitively, 3,178 citizens of Rutland don’t want to worry about the water that will flow from our faucets. There are three reasons that the water bond article failed in November. First, the wording on the ballot was disingenuous and confusing. Two, the misleading wording on the ballot made safe water strictly a $125 versus a $7 issue, isolated from health concerns. Three, the mayor’s water quality discussions did not include diverse viewpoints about various options for Rutland’s water treatment. All panel members were state officials providing “anecdotal” endorsements for chloramine as a cheap fix. There are no long-term substantive studies available even though this additive has been used in the U.S. since 1917. EPA, as well as the panel members, agree that using granular activated charcoal is the best method of treating water.
And, number three and a half, the trump card, even if the ballot had passed, the Rutland charter allows the public works commissioner to override the bond vote. The public works commissioner is appointed by the mayor.
It’s completely understandable why we Rutlanders would choose cheaper chloramine rather than the safer and reliable GAC system as presented in the bond. The 3,401 votes for cheap water will mean that individual homeowners will be responsible for the costs of bottled water, home filtration systems and plumbing systems that will degrade over time. Some individuals will develop immune deficiencies making them subject to any number of diseases. These individuals will suffer and have additional medical costs. It’s called privatization. It’s called passing the buck down the road until EPA passes its next set of guidelines in 2017. It’s called adding even more chemicals then. It’s called contaminating ourselves and the planet. It means that turning on the water tap is a gamble depending on how your immune system reacts and you get to pay the medical establishment. It’s about money, not the health and well-being of the community.
Money — where’s it going to come from? Homeowners of modest means are tapped out. Property owners don’t want more expense. Has community in America and here in Rutland degenerated to self-interested private concern? What really is a community? Rutland gives lots of blood. Does that make Rutland truly a community? Is meeting minimal legal financial obligations enough to call this place a community? Is safe water a community issue or a private concern? Is it really OK that we poison some Rutlanders because chloramine is a cheap fix? Are these words here just “sour grapes,” or is ammonia added to our water going to poison some of us? Is this water issue about health or about money? Chloramine is poison. Three thousand four hundred one to 3,178 votes. That’s pretty close, especially when you consider the spin and contorted, slanted framing of the language in the water bond article. What do you want coming from your faucet?
An election is coming up in March. The mayor is up for re-election and a number of alderman seats. Talk to our representatives in City Hall and tell them whether you want safe or cheap water.